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Johnson & Johnson to stop selling talc-based baby powder in U.S.

On Behalf of | May 31, 2020 | Mesothelioma/Asbestos-Related Illness, Products Liability

For many years, Johnson & Johnson worked hard to convince women and mothers everywhere that its baby powder was gentle and pure. However, by using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, those women and mothers may have been exposing themselves and their children to carcinogenic asbestos.

Now, the company has announced its plans to stop selling talc-based baby powder in the U.S. This comes nearly two and a half years after Reuters first revealed that Johnson & Johnson had known about asbestos in its baby powder. So, what does the company’s announcement mean? How might it help those who blame their cancers on asbestos in the baby powder?

Five takeaways from the decision to stop selling talc-based baby powder

Though some have already heralded the decision as a major victory for thousands of people with cancer, Johnson & Johnson claims it had nothing to do with its product safety. Still, there are at least five notable takeaways:

  • Johnson & Johnson intends to continue selling its talc-based baby powder in other markets. So far, it has only planned to end sales in the United States and Canada.
  • The company plans to continue selling a version of the baby powder that it makes with cornstarch. This suggests the cornstarch-based product is a viable alternative to the talc-based product.
  • Johnson & Johnson currently faces more than 19,000 lawsuits, plus an ongoing federal investigation, that are all tied to its baby powder.
  • The company claims it did not base its decision on safety concerns or fears related to the ongoing federal investigation. This suggests the decision was based on profit margins. If so, this could suggest the company continues to value profits over consumer safety.
  • Regardless of why the decision was made, it stands to save lives. And that makes it a major win for the victims and their families. For decades, tests had found traces of asbestos in samples of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. Asbestos causes cancer. And getting that asbestos off the shelves reduces the chance that other women and mothers will suffer from mesothelioma or ovarian cancer.

As some have noted, the decision won’t bring the ongoing cases to a close anytime soon. The company continues to deny that its product was ever unsafe, and it continues to appeal rulings that it doesn’t like.

Will this move strengthen the case against Johnson & Johnson?

It’s unclear whether Johnson & Johnson’s decision will aid either side in the ongoing legal battles. The damage in those cases has already been done. But some experts believe that courts may reduce punitive damages in cases that go against Johnson & Johnson. They may see the decision to stop selling the talc-based product as a move toward consumer safety.

It’s unlikely the decision was made due consumer health concerns. Johnson & Johnson still refuses to publicly acknowledge any danger. But because the move does promote better health, it’s a win. The battle continues, but there should be fewer future casualties.

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