Johnson & Johnson is discontinuing sales of talc-based baby powder in North America, at a time when the company faces thousands of lawsuits filed by patients who say the product gave them cancer.
Talc-Based Baby Powder Discontinued in the United States and Canada
On May 19, 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced on its website that, “[a]s part of a portfolio assessment related to COVID-19, in March, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health stopped shipping hundreds of items in the U.S. and Canada to prioritize high-demand products and to allow for appropriate social distancing in manufacturing and distribution facilities during this unprecedented pandemic. Following this action, the Company has now decided to permanently discontinue approximately 100 SKUs from the March assessment, as well as talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder.”
The discontinuation is only effective in the United States and Canada, as the company will continue to sell talc-based baby powder in other parts of the world. Johnson & Johnson will also allow existing bottles of the powder to be sold by retailers until they run out, and it will still sell baby powder made with cornstarch.
Johnson & Johnson said that “Demand for talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”
At Least 19,400 Lawsuits Over the Product
For decades, the main ingredient in baby powder was talc. But after consumer advocates raised concerns that talc contained traces of asbestos, which is a known carcinogen, Johnson & Johnson developed a cornstarch alternative in 1980.
At least 19,400 plaintiffs, most of them women with ovarian cancer, have filed suit against the company in recent years, alleging that Johnson & Johnson did not warn them of potential risks associated with talc-based baby powder that it was already discussing internally. Earlier lawsuits claimed that talc itself caused cancer. Later lawsuits argued that asbestos was present in talc and capable of causing cancer even in microscopic amounts.
Asbestos contamination may occur when talc is mined because the minerals can intermingle underground. Internal memos and reports that were unearthed during the litigation process revealed that Johnson & Johnson had been concerned for at least fifty years about the possibility of asbestos being present in its talc. The uncovering of these documents prompted inquiries by the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and authorities and congressional committees in New Mexico and Mississippi.
Johnson & Johnson has repeatedly blamed faulty testing and poorly-equipped researchers for findings that its talc-based baby powder was contaminated with asbestos. The company said that it “will continue to vigorously defend the product” in court. While many of these lawsuits have already produced successful outcomes for plaintiffs, including one case in which a Missouri jury awarded $4.7 billion to twenty-two women in 2018, Johnson & Johnson has appealed nearly all of the verdicts against it.
Personal Injury Lawyers Fighting Corporate Greed
We are surrounded by products in contemporary society. From the vehicles on the roads to the items in our medicine cabinets, we trust these products to be safe, to improve our lives, not to shorten them.
But what happens when this trust is broken? What if we become the innocent victims of corporate greed? Who will hold giant companies accountable for their negligent actions?
In situations like these, GWC Injury Lawyers LLC can make a difference. For more than four decades, our Chicago personal injury lawyers have fought tirelessly on behalf of average citizens to make sure that not even multi-billion-dollar conglomerates can hold themselves above the law. With over $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, we think our record of success speaks for itself.
So if you have been wrongfully injured, contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.