(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday announced that it would stop selling its talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the United States and Canada, saying it was part of a broad reassessment of its consumer product portfolio prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. healthcare conglomerate said it would wind down sales of the product, which makes up about 0.5% of its U.S. consumer health business, in the coming months, but that retailers will continue to sell existing inventory.
J&J faces more than 16,000 lawsuits from consumers claiming its talc products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder, caused their cancer. The majority are pending before a U.S. district judge in New Jersey.
The lawsuits allege that the company’s talc products have been contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen. J&J has consistently defended the safety of its talc products and said it remains confident in their safety.
In April, a New Jersey judge ruled that thousands of plaintiffs who allege that J&J’s talc products caused cancer can go forward with their claims, but face limits on what expert testimony will be allowed in trials.
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J&J in December said its testing found no asbestos in its Baby Powder after tests conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration discovered trace amounts. The FDA’s test prompted J&J to recall of one lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder in October.
“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,” J&J said in a statement.
J&J said it will continue to sell cornstarch-based baby powder in North America, and that it will sell both its talc- and cornstarch-based products in other markets around the world.
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