Johnson & Johnson discontinues talc-based baby powder in U.S., Canada amid lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson will discontinue the use of talc in its baby powder products after years of legal battles over allegations that the product may have caused cancer, the company announced Tuesday.

The company insisted that despite pulling the product it will continue to “vigorously defend” its safety based on decades of scientific study. Johnson & Johnson said it instead based the decision on declining interest due in part to “misinformation.”

“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,” the release said.

Health concerns about talcum powders have prompted thousands of U.S. lawsuits by women who claim asbestos in the powder caused their cancer. Talc is a mineral similar in structure to asbestos, which is known to cause cancer, and they are sometimes obtained from the same mines

In January, U.S. government-led research found no strong evidence linking baby powder with ovarian cancer. Smaller studies investigating a possible link between talcum powder and cancer have had conflicting results, though most found no connection.

Johnson & Johnson pointed out in its statement all verdicts in lawsuits against the brand that made such claims were overturned through appeal.

Talc-based powder will still be sold alongside the company’s constarch-based product in global markets, where there is “significantly higher consumer demand.” The baby powder only accounts for about 0.5 percent of the total U.S. Consumer Health business, according to the brand.

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