Johnson & Johnson halts talcum powder sales in the US and Canada, citing declining demand in the face of cancer lawsuits

| | May 21, 2020
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Johnson & Johnson will stop selling talcum-based baby powder in the United States and Canada after being ordered to pay out billions of dollars related to lost legal battles over claims the product causes cancer.

The company made the announcement [May 19]. It denied allegations that the powder is responsible for health problems.

“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,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.

Separate investigations by Reuters and The New York Times in December 2018 revealed documents showing Johnson & Johnson fretted for decades that small amounts of asbestos lurked in its baby powder.

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Asbestos can occur naturally underground near talc. It becomes harmful when it breaks down and lodges in the lung tissue, possibly leading to diseases including lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Stores around the country and in Canada will continue to sell whatever remaining inventory of baby powder remains on their shelves, the company said. Additionally, cornstarch-based Johnson’s Baby Powder will remain available in North America.

Both types of the powder will continue to be sold in other countries around the world “where there is significantly higher consumer demand for the product.”

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