Johnson & Johnson is abandoning talc-based baby powder next year and instead will make it with cornstarch.
Its talc-based powder, which hasn’t been sold in the United States and Canada since 2020, is at the center of tens of thousands of lawsuits filed by women who have developed ovarian cancer after using regular talcum powder
Johnson & Johnson says it remains confident in the safety of the product. But, in a statement Friday, the company said it would stop selling talc-based powder around the world next year as part of a “worldwide portfolio assessment.”
“We continuously evaluate and optimize our portfolio to best position the business for long-term growth,” the company said in a statement. “This transition will help simplify our product offerings, deliver sustainable innovation, and meet the needs of our consumers, customers and evolving global trends.”
A handful of talcum powder companies have put warning labels on their products, but Johnson & Johnson
(JNJ) argued such a label would be confusing, because it stood by its product. Some scientific studies have shown that women have an increased risk of ovarian cancer with talc use in the genital area, but others do not.
Lawsuits have been filed against the company alleging that asbestos in its talcum powder causes cancer. A St. Louis jury delivered a $4.7 billion verdict against the company in 2018, saying the company was negligent and did not warn consumers about possible health risks from its baby powder.
“Our position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged. We stand firmly behind the decades of independent scientific analysis by medical experts around the world that confirms talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer,” it said in Friday’s announcement.