J&J will stop global sales of baby powder containing talc next year

Johnson & Johnson is pulling talc-containing baby powder worldwide next year after it did the same in the US and Canada amid thousands of lawsuits alleging it caused cancer.

Talc will be replaced by cornstarch, the company said.

The company has faced lawsuits alleging its talcum powder has caused users to develop ovarian cancer, from feminine hygiene use, or mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lungs and other organs.

J&J insists, and the vast majority of medical research on talc indicates that talcum powder is safe and does not cause cancer.

However, the company’s baby powder demand fell and J&J removed the talc-based product from most of North America in 2020.

The company did so after it saw demand plummet due to “misleading advertising of talc disputes that caused worldwide confusion and unwarranted concern,” a company spokeswoman said on product safety.

J&J said the change announced late Thursday will simplify product selection and meet evolving global trends.

Last October, J&J said a separate subsidiary it created to manage talc litigation claims had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

J&J then said it funded the subsidiary, called LTL Management, and established a $2 billion trust to pay claims the bankruptcy court determined.

The healthcare giant also said last fall that it will turn its consumer health business — which sells baby powder, patches and other products — into a separate publicly traded company. The portion of the company that sells prescription drugs and medical devices holds the J&J name.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, rose slightly before the opening bell Friday. The stock outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, of which J&J is a member for most of the year.

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