Johnson & Johnson is halting distribution in the U.S. and Canada of its famous talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder, where interest has plummeted from thousands of cases alleging it has induced cancer.
The world’s largest health care product maker said Tuesday the talc-based powder will still be sold outside the United States and Canada.
“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 company said.
J&J faces approximately 19,400 cases alleging that its talcum powder has caused users to develop ovarian cancer using female hygiene or mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lungs and other organs.
J&J’s has 12 victories, 15 loses and seven mistrials in the lawsuits that were prosecuted. All the losses were either overturned on appeal, or are still appealed.
The company insists that the talc baby powder is safe and does not cause cancer and the overwhelming majority of medical research on talc indicates that.
“Whether or not the powder actually causes cancer, people became hesitant to use the product,” Erik Gordon, a professor at University of Michigan’s business school, said in an email.
J&J spokeswoman Kimberly Montagnino said the company had no plans to settle any of the lawsuits and the product would “will continue to vigorously defend.”
The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company said the decision about baby powder came as it moves to discontinue around 100 consumer health products. Throughout the coronavirus epidemic, it said its aim is to prioritize high-demand goods and enable social distancing in its fabrication and distribution facilities.
In North America, J&J will also market their less common cornstarch-based baby powder.