Johnson & Johnson stops selling baby powder as cancer lawsuits grow

Johnson & Johnson said it plans to stop selling talc-based baby powder products globally by 2023, a move that comes amid ongoing legal battles and years after The company discontinued products in the US and Canada.

J&J said on Thursday it has made a “commercial decision” to switch all of its baby powder products to cornstarch instead of talcum powder after conducting a review of its portfolio. . The health group that has maintained product safety for nearly a decade has faced lawsuits accusing it of concealing the cancer risk associated with baby powder made from talcum powder.

“We continuously evaluate and optimize our portfolio to best position the business for long-term growth,” said spokeswoman Melissa Witt. “Today’s decision is part of a worldwide portfolio review that assesses a number of factors, including differences in demand for our products across geographies as well as as consumer trends and preferences are evolving”.

Share of the new BrunswickThe New Jersey-based company was up less than 1% in after-market trading and was down 2.3% so far this year through the end of Thursday.

In May 2020, when J&J handled thousands of lawsuits alleging that the product caused some cancers in users, the company Its talc-based powder pull from the US and Canadian markets, citing another “commercial decision” based on declining sales.

“After decades of selling talc-based products that the company knew could cause deadly cancer to unsuspecting women and men around the world, J&J is finally getting it right,” said Leigh. O’Dell, an attorney for former talc users, said in an emailed statement Thursday. “They stopped selling in North America over two years ago. The delay in taking this step is inexcusable.”

Talcum powder

Talcum powder has long been used in baby products because this mineral keeps skin dry and prevents diaper rash. However, these powder-producing mines can also produce asbestos, a mineral once used in products like building insulation that researchers have linked to cancer. Some consumer companies have found that cornstarch can provide the same benefits as talcum powder without the risk of asbestos.

J&J said on Thursday that “their position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged.”

The medical group has spent years trying to find ways to prevent its liabilities. It faces 40,300 lawsuits in the US over its talcum powder, according to a company filing last month with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

J&J filed for bankruptcy protection for its newly formed LTL Management LLC unit last year after arguing it was struggling to contain lawsuits.

2 billion dollar trust

The company has placed $2 billion in the trust as part of the unit’s bankruptcy to settle all current and future talc claims. In February, a judge said the case could go ahead seeking settlements, but his ruling is being appealed.

Attorneys for former talc users have objected to J&J’s move to require it to seek Chapter 11 protection against the talc unit. A federal appeals court in Philadelphia will hear the plaintiffs’ arguments on September 19 that the move resulted in a bankruptcy filing “in bad faith” because they argue that J&J’s financial position not threatened by the talc lawsuit.

In court filings, J&J’s attorneys noted that the company had encountered obstacles in global settlement of talc lawsuits and faced rising legal costs. The drugmaker’s attorneys note that they have paid more than $1 billion in legal fees over the past five years in talc lawsuits and have had to deal with inconsistent jury verdicts.

J&J has been forced to pay about $3.5 billion in settlements to date to settle talc cases, according to the company’s bankruptcy filing. A 2018 jury verdict in St. Both the Missouri Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court refused to overturn the ruling.

Meanwhile, J&J has plans break up turn their consumer health business into an independent company next year in a move that legal experts say could help them separate responsibility if the Chapter 11 means fail.

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