Johnson & Johnson has announced that it will continue selling its talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the UK and globally despite a US and Canada ban.
Healthcare products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson said it will still sell its talc-based baby powder in the UK and the rest of the world despite halting its sale in Northern America.
The company said sales of the baby powder had fallen partly due to a “constant barrage” of advertising by lawyers urging clients to file a claim against the firm.
Recall of baby powder in the US
Last year, J&J announced a voluntary recall of baby powder bottles produced and shipped in the US in 2018, following a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test which discovered levels of chrysotile asbestos contamination in samples from a bottle purchased online.
The company advised consumers with bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder from lot #22318RB to stop using the product and contact the company for a refund. According to the company, the levels of asbestos contamination were at most 0.00002%.
Johnson & Johnson pointed out that it cannot confirm whether there was a cross-contamination, whether the sample came from a bottle with an intact seal or whether the tested product is authentic at the investigation’s early stage.
In its announcement, the company claimed that it “has immediately initiated a rigorous, thorough investigation into this matter, and is working with the FDA to determine the integrity of the tested sample, and the validity of the test results.”
The FDA said: “Both talc and asbestos are naturally occurring minerals that may be found in close proximity in the earth. Unlike talc, however, asbestos is a known carcinogen. There is the potential for contamination of talc with asbestos and therefore, it is important to select talc mining sites carefully and take steps to test the ore sufficiently.”
According to Johnson & Johnson, its decision to recall the products was “out of an abundance of caution.”
Claims against J&J
Over the years, Johnson & Johnson has faced numerous claims that its talc causes cancer but has always defended the product’s safety.
Courts have ordered the company to pay out billions of dollars in compensation but the firm has always successfully appealed against these rulings so far. In the US alone, almost 20,000 people have filed claims against J&J.
Talc is often mined in seams close to where asbestos, a material known to cause cancer, can be found. However, the company stated: “Johnson & Johnson remains steadfastly confident in the safety of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder.”
It argued that “decades” of study by medical and legal experts globally supported its view, and all verdicts against the company that had gone against it had been overturned on appeal.
Currently, the company is appealing against a 2018 order to pay $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer after using its talc-based products.
Continued sale of baby powder
All talc-based products in the US and Canada will continue to be sold until stocks run out. It will continue to sell a cornstarch-based powder in North America.
Meanwhile, J&J said both talc-based and cornstarch-based Johnson’s baby powder will continue to be sold in other markets globally, where there is “significantly higher” consumer demand for the product.
It cited an October 2019 testing which found no asbestos in its Baby Powder after the FDA discovery.