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Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N will stop global sales of talc-based baby powder in 2023, the drugmaker said Thursday, more than two years after it ended U.S. sales of a product that sparked thousands of consumer safety lawsuits.
“As part of a global portfolio review, we have made the commercial decision to move to a full cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio,” it said, adding that cornstarch-based baby powder is already sold in countries around the world.
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In 2020, J&J announced it would stop selling talcum powder in the United States and Canada as demand had plummeted due to what it called “misinformation” about the product’s safety amid a barrage of legal claims. challenges.
The company is facing approximately 38,000 lawsuits from consumers and their survivors alleging that its talc products caused cancer through contamination with asbestos, a known carcinogen.
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J&J denies the allegations, saying decades of scientific testing and regulatory approvals have shown the talc to be safe and asbestos-free. On Thursday, it repeated the statement when it announced the discontinuation of the product.
The company spun off subsidiary LTL Management in October, transferred its talk claims to it and immediately declared bankruptcy, halting pending lawsuits.
Before the bankruptcy filing, the company faced costs of $3.5 billion in judgments and settlements, including one in which 22 women were sentenced to more than $2 billion, according to bankruptcy court files.
A 2018 Reuters study found that J&J had known for decades that asbestos, a carcinogen, was present in its talc products. Internal company records, witness statements and other evidence showed that from at least 1971 through the early 2000s, J&J’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.
In response to evidence of asbestos contamination in media reports, in court and on Capitol Hill, J&J has repeatedly stated that its talc products are safe and do not cause cancer.
(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; editing by Maju Samuel and Deepa Babington)