In the year 2023, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will stop their selling of talcum-based baby powder globally, as mentioned by them on Thursday, for more than two years after it ended US sales of a product that drew thousands of consumer safety lawsuits.
“As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio,” it said, also adding that cornstarch-based baby powder has already been sold among countries around the world.
In the year 2020, J&J announced that it would stop selling its talcum baby powder in the US and Canada because demand had fallen rapidly due to the “misinformation” about the product’s safety amid a barrage of legal claims.
The company faces about 38,000 lawsuits from consumers as well as survivors after claims that their talcum products caused cancer due to it being contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen.
However, J&J denies the allegations, stating that a plethora of scientific testing and regulatory approvals have been done to prove its talcum product is indeed safe and asbestos-free.
On Thursday, the statement was reiterated whilst announcing the discontinuation of the product.
In October, J&J spun off subsidiary LTL Management, by assigning its talcum claims to it and immediately placed it into bankruptcy, in order to pause the pending lawsuits.
But, before filing for bankruptcy, the company faced costs from US$3.5 billion in verdicts and settlements, including one in which 22 women were awarded a judgment of more than US$2 billion, based on bankruptcy court records.
A shareholder’s proposal requesting for global sales of talcum baby powder to end unfortunately failed in April.
Based on a 2018 Reuters investigation, it is found that J&J knew for decades that asbestos, a carcinogen, was present in its talcum products. Internal company records, trial testimony and other evidence showed that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, J&J’s raw talcum and finished powders sometimes include small amounts of asbestos in their products.
In response to evidence of asbestos contamination shown on media reports, in the courtroom and on Capitol Hill, J&J has repeatedly said its talcum products are safe, and is not cancerous.
Selling since the year 1894, Johnson’s Baby Powder has become a symbol of the company’s family-friendly image.
An internal J&J marketing presentation from 1999 refers to the baby products division, with Baby Powder at the core, as J&J’s “#1 Asset”,as reported by Reuters, even though it accounted for only 0.5% of its US consumer health business when the company stopped its production.
Photo Credit: Bloomberg.com
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