Johnson & Johnson announced Tuesday that it will discontinue sales of its talc-based baby powder in Canada and the United States. The company has faced thousands of lawsuits alleging the powder contains asbestos, a claim the company denies.
"Demand for talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder in North America has been declining 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," the company said in a statement.
As of late 2019, the company was facing thousands of lawsuits alleging the talc-based powder contains asbestos, a known carcinogen. Johnson & Johnson has consistently said its products are safe.
In early October, the company recalled 33,000 bottles of the baby powder after FDA regulators found a small amount of asbestos in a bottle purchased online. But later that month, Johnson & Johnson said that 15 tests of the same bottle of baby powder conducted by two laboratories hired by the company found no asbestos.
"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 said in the Tuesday statement. "We will continue to vigorously defend the product, its safety, and the unfounded allegations against it and the Company in the courtroom."
Johnson & Johnson added that although the product has been discontinued in the U.S. and Canada, existing inventory will still be sold. The powder will continue to be sold in other countries, where "there is significantly higher consumer demand," the company said.
Illinois Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, celebrated the announcement. "Today, in a major victory for public health, Johnson & Johnson's asbestos-containing baby powder finally will be taken off store shelves," Krishnamoorthi said in a statement. "My Subcommittee's 14-month investigation revealed that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its product contains asbestos, and the company fought to keep using a testing method that never would have allowed it to be detected. Today's victory means that children and families no longer will be endangered by this baby powder."
Johnson & Johnson's cornstarch-based baby powder, which has not faced similar allegations, will remain on the market in North America, the company added.