Johnson & Johnson has decided to stop selling all talc-based baby powders. This news comes after a series of lawsuits connecting Johnson’s baby powder to cancer. Johnson & Johnson denies that its baby powder is dangerous and will continue to sell it outside of the United States and Canada.
J&J Announcement Comes After Recalls, Lawsuits
On May 19th, 2020, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced it will no longer sell its talc-based baby powder. J&J’s decision marked the end of an era, as the talc-based baby powder had been a company staple for over a century.
That said, the connection between Johnson’s baby powder and cancer had grown in recent years. Several lawsuits claimed that women who regularly used the product had developed ovarian cancer. Some of these lawsuits forced the company to pay out billions of dollars to victims.
The company also recalled a batch of Johnson’s Baby Powder in the fall of 2019 after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos — a known cause of cancer — in a sample of the product.
This is a step in the right direction, but anyone who regularly used J&J’s talcum powder could still be at risk of ovarian cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. Further, J&J continues to deny that its talcum powder is dangerous.
Why Did J&J Recall its Baby Powder?
J&J recalled its talcum powder due to a dramatic drop in sales. The company claims that this drop was due to “misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”
J&J still denies that its talc-based baby powder causes cancer and released the following statement in an official press release:
“Johnson & Johnson remains steadfastly confident in the safety of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder. Decades of scientific studies by medical experts around the world support the safety of our product.”
The company also noted that it will defend the product’s safety in future court cases.
Johnson’s Baby Powder and Cancer Risk
Despite J&J’s claims about the safety of its talcum powder, lawsuits continue to link it to cancer. According to the Los Angeles Times, J&J faces over 17,000 talc-related lawsuits as of January 2020.
In a 2018 lawsuit, the company had to pay out over $4 Billion to 22 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using J&J talcum powder. The company is currently trying to appeal the verdict.
Leading medical organizations are also studying the possible health risks of talc.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) noted that talc can cause cancer in humans.
- The American Cancer Society (ACS) has stated that research about the long-term effects of talc laced with asbestos is still under investigation.
Although a clear medical link has yet to be established, more and more lawsuits have noted that women who have used J&J’s talc-based products later developed ovarian cancer.
Future of J&J’s Baby Powder
J&J will not pull its talc-based baby powders from shelves despite the announcement. Instead, it will sell the remaining bottles until the current inventory runs out.
This does not mean J&J will stop making talc-based baby powder. As noted in its press release, J&J will only stop selling the product in the United States and Canada. This means those who use J&J’s talc-based baby powder in other countries could still be at risk.
J&J’s press release made this clear when the company stated: “Importantly, Johnson & Johnson remains fully committed to its Johnson’s Baby brand.”
Safety Options For Those Who Used J&J Talcum Powder
If you or a loved one is concerned about developing ovarian cancer from J&J talc-based baby powder, stop using the product immediately.
You can also:
- Talk to your doctor about possible symptoms of ovarian cancer as early as possible. Early detection of cancer can save lives and gives you greater options for treatments.
- Note how often you used J&J’s talc-based baby powder with your doctor. This can help your doctor establish a connection between the use of baby powder and cancer.
While J&J’s decision to stop selling baby powder in the U.S. is important, it comes too late to help those already suffering. Further, J&J’s choice to keep selling talc-based powder in other countries shows it still hasn’t learned its lesson.
Until all of J&J’s talc-based baby powders have been discontinued, the company needs to be held responsible for putting women at possible risk of ovarian cancer. No one deserved to develop talcum powder cancer from using a product that was thought to be safe.