After sales dropped by 60 percent in the last three years, Johnson & Johnson announced that it will pull its talc-based baby powder from shelves in the US and Canada.
The chairman of J&J’s North America Consumer unit, Kathleen Widmer, said it was a ‘commercial decision’ to stop the sale of the product. She added that any current supplies will continue to be sold until products run out.
Almost 20,000 people with cancer have filed lawsuits claiming their tumors were linked to J&J talc-based baby powder, which currently makes 0.5% of the company’s consumer health business in the US.
Most of the 19,400 claims were brought by women who claimed their ovarian cancer was caused by the J&J product, which they used as a deodorant or an antiperspirant.
But the company says the move is part of the valuation of its consumer product portfolio prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
J&J told CNBC in a statement that it “remains steadfastly confident in the safety of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder.”
The statement read: “Decades of scientific studies by medical experts around the world support the safety of our product.
“We will continue to vigorously defend the product, its safety, and the unfounded allegations against it and the company in the courtroom.”
In 2019, J&J recalled around 33,000 bottles of baby powder after the US Food and Drug Administration found traces of asbestos in one bought online.
Health company officials said they later tested the product and found no traces of asbestos. But a 2018 Reuters investigation said the company knew its product contained asbestos for decades.
One internet user commented: “I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 10 years ago (now in remission) and one of the first questions I was asked was whether I used Johnsons baby powder. And this is still in the news !”
Another wrote: “I am 67rs old have been using this powder for my self for the past 50yrs and my children over 40yrs in the right places it has been fine. People that use it in intimate places need to read the instruction where to use it.”
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