Johnson & Johnson announced that it will officially stop selling its talc-based baby powder products globally in 2023. This decision comes more than two years after the company ceased its distribution of talc-based baby powder products in the United States. Johnson & Johnson’s controversial talc-based products have been the center of thousands of lawsuits nationwide that allege the company’s talc-based products cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer in users.
Talc in J&J’s Baby Powder Linked to Cancer
Many cosmetic lines, industrial products, and baby powders contain a naturally occurring mineral mined from the earth known as talc. Manufacturers crush talc to form talcum powder which companies incorporate into products since it can absorb moisture, reduce friction, prevent caking in makeup, and so on. Another naturally occurring mineral, asbestos, is often found near talc. However, asbestos is a known carcinogen that may contaminate mined talc during extraction. Although Johnson & Johnson has denied the presence of asbestos in its products, countless individuals claim they have developed cancer after prolonged exposure to the company’s talc-based personal hygiene powders.
As of August 2022, over 37,000 lawsuits are pending in MDL-2738 entitled IN RE: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation. These lawsuits argue that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its talc-based products contained asbestos but neglected to warn consumers.
Johnson & Johnson Pulled Talc-Based Baby Powder From U.S. Market in 2020
In May 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced that it would stop selling its talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada after increasing criticism regarding the presence of asbestos in its products. Despite this removal, the company insisted that it still believes in the safety of its baby powder, but amid “misinformation” and growing litigation, it decided to remove the products from these markets. Johnson & Johnson repeatedly stated that this suspension did not contradict its assertion that its talc-based products do not cause cancer. While J&J replaced talc with cornstarch in the North American formulation, the company revealed it would continue to offer talc-based baby powder products globally.
Johnson & Johnson Will No Longer Sell Talc-Based Baby Powder Globally
On August 11, 2022, Johnson & Johnson decided to transition to solely cornstarch-based baby powder globally and to discontinue all talc-based baby powder in 2023. Again, the company affirmed that this transition does not reflect any change in its original stance toward the safety of its talcum powder products. Johnson & Johnson attributed its resolution to phase out talc in its baby powder to lower demand caused by what it calls “misleading talc litigation.”
In October 2021, Johnson & Johnson created a subsidiary company in Texas called LTL Management and transferred all its talcum powder liabilities to LTL Management, which then promptly filed for bankruptcy. This bankruptcy strategy, referred to as the “Texas Two-Step,” intends to halt and delay the talcum powder lawsuits. Johnson & Johnson hopes to mitigate losses by giving this subsidiary 2 billion to compensate the nearly 38,000 cases and all future claimants. Even though the lawsuits are paused in bankruptcy court, experts state that J&J’s recent sales decision may affect lawsuits moving forward. Plaintiffs may use this global removal of talc-based baby powder as evidence in claims against Johnson & Johnson.