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Johnson & Johnson to Cease Selling Talc-Based Baby Powder in U.S. & Canada

The product is the subject of thousands of consumer lawsuits over potential cancer-causing asbestos contamination.

Johnson & Johnson is discontinuing the sale of its now controversial talc-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada.

The product is the subject of thousands of lawsuits filed by cancer patients, alleging that talc used by the company in its baby powder product was contaminated by asbestos for years, potentially causing ovarian cancer in unwitting consumers.

The company said Tuesday that the decision to discontinue the product came from a wider initiative in March to prioritize products with greater demand due to the spread of COVID-19. About 100 sku’s, including the talc-based baby powder, are to now be permanently discontinued as a result of the move.

The New Jersey-based consumer giant said demand for its talc-based baby powder has been slipping of late, pinning the declines on “changing consumer habits” and “misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”

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J&J reasserted its confidence in its talc-base baby powder, citing “decades of studies by medical experts.”

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But the company in October recalled 33,000 bottles of the company’s baby powder after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration discovered traces of asbestos in bottles purchased from an online retailer. J&J said later that bottles it tested from the same batch were clean.

And then there are the lawsuits — J&J in recent years has faced thousands of them from women who have claimed asbestos found in J&J’s talc-based baby powders caused their ovarian cancer. It’s not the only one of the company’s products that has been the center of consumer lawsuits — people have also sued the company over a blood-thinner called Xarelto and a surgical pelvic mesh.

J&J said its baby powder sales represent about a half percent of its total consumer health business in the U.S.

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