Johnson & Johnson’s crushed talc baby powder first debuted on the market in 1894. The mineral naturally occurs alongside asbestos in the earth. This has raised concerns in recent years that the product may be linked to ovarian cancer, particularly when used regularly for feminine hygiene, as it has been promoted. After nearly 126 years on the market, the company has announced they will no longer sell the product in the U.S. and Canada.
Is Baby Powder Extinct?
What was once a nursery staple is now on the path to extinction– in North America at least. The shipment of hundreds of new talc powder units has officially ceased. You may, however, still encounter baby powder on the shelves. All existing inventory will continue to be sold in retail locations until the product runs out. It will also continue to be sold around the world, “where there is significantly higher consumer demand.” Last year, J&J sold its Shower to Shower powder to Bausch Health Cosmetics, which has quietly reformulated the product– replacing its main ingredient, talc, with corn starch.
What Is the Controversy Over J&J Baby Powder?
Talc is a soft mineral with absorbent capabilities, but it can also contain trace amounts of asbestos, a known carcinogen. There is no “safe” level of exposure to asbestos. Though the company had expressed concerns about asbestos contamination in their internal memos for at least 50 years, the product continued to be sold, without warning, to consumers.
In June 2018, a judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay nearly $5 billion to 22 women alleging their long-term use of talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
In October 2019, J&J pulled a single lot of 33,000 talc-based products off the market after FDA testing revealed asbestos contamination in one of the bottles. The company commissioned its own lab test and adamantly disagreed with the FDA’s findings. In the meantime, cancer lawsuits increased by 15 percent. As of June 2020, the company faced more than 17,000 pending talc lawsuits.
In May 2020, TIME Magazine reported that “J&J said it would pull a single lot of 33,000 bottles off the market after a Food and Drug Administration-conducted test uncovered tiny amounts of the contaminant in one bottle of baby powder. But the company said the lab tests it commissioned found no sign of asbestos in the recalled lot– putting it at odds with U.S. health regulators who stuck by their test results. The standoff occurred as lawsuits against the company continued to climb.”
What Does This Move Mean For Pending Talc Lawsuits?
If you have a pending talc lawsuit, you may think this move signals a slam-dunk for your case against the manufacturer. While it’s certainly a way to “put a fence” around the cancer claims and limit future liability, the product discontinuation is far from an admission of guilt.
“Johnson & Johnson remains steadfastly confident in the safety of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder,” the company said in a statement. They blamed a COVID-19-related decrease in their manufacturing operations, along with declining demand due to “misinformation” as the cause for the discontinuation, adding: “We will continue to vigorously defend the product, its safety, and the unfounded allegations against it and the company in the courtroom.” They expressed confidence in the appeals process.
Contact Showard Law Firm
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder or Shower to Shower products, contact Showard Law Firm, based in Phoenix, Arizona. There is no upfront cost of pursuing a talc lawsuit. You only pay a legal fee if we take your case and recover compensation.
5. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/19/business/johnson-baby-powder-sales-stopped.html https://www.vice.com/en_in/article/v7gmy8/johnson-and-johnson-stops-selling-controversial-baby-talc-powder-in-us-and-canada-but-will-continue-in-other-countries
6. Bloomberg. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-18/j-j-recalls-single-lot-of-baby-powder-after-asbestos-trace-found https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-29/j-j-reports-15-jump-in-suits-over-talc-cancer-allegations