Consumer health products giant cited declining consumer demand prompted by litigation over cancer risk
Johnson & Johnson announced Tuesday that it would stop selling the talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the United States amid consumer concerns about the safety of the product. The company said that consumer demand for the product had declined “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.”
J&J has faced a barrage of lawsuits from consumers saying that its talc-based products, including Baby Powder, caused their cancer. As of March 2020, around 19,400 plaintiffs had filed suits in U.S. courts against J&J, claiming that its talc products caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
The company has denied the allegations against it, maintaining that its products are safe. While the company has prevailed in some suits, it has lost some substantial verdicts. This past February, a jury in J&J’s home state of New Jersey ordered J&J to pay $750 million in punitive damages after it found that the company had failed to warn consumers about dangers of Baby Powder. While the state court judge in the New Jersey case reduced the award to $186.5 million, the case marked the fifth loss for J&J in 2019.
This won’t be the first time that J&J has pulled Baby Powder from store shelves. Late last year, the company recalled 33,000 bottles of Baby Powder after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration reported that it had found trace amount of asbestos in a bottle.
J&J will continue to sell its cornstarch-based version of the product.