Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced recently that it would halt the production of talc-based powder in the United States and Canada. Perhaps J&J’s signature product, the company ceased shipping of hundreds of items throughout the U.S. and Canada, with talcum powder listed as one of the items no longer shipped. Nowthisisnews.com reported that J&J said it was prioritizing other products that are in higher demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, reducing the products the company offers will enable it to follow social distancing guidelines in its manufacturing plants because of the coronavirus pandemic. J&J has been defending numerous lawsuits alleging that the brand’s talcum powder can cause cancer.
The coincidence is hard to ignore. Although J&J said that it was shutting down its production of items like baby powder made with talc in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company was bombarded with legal action. To date, almost 20,000 lawsuits are now pending against J&J in the U.S. and Canada, claiming that the talc used in making the powder contained carcinogenic properties that eventually led to cancer. Additionally, J&J said it would continue to ship talc-based powder all around the world, with the exception of North America. J&J will sell powder with a cornstarch base in North America instead.
Talc is a natural substance that is easily mined. Companies like J&J have been using it for a long time because of its moisture-wicking properties. However, talc is mined near asbestos. Experts say that a substantial amount of talcum powder contains asbestos, which is a known carcinogen widely responsible for numerous cancers and other diseases.
At least two of the talcum powder lawsuits have gone to trial. Twenty-two plaintiffs in one lawsuit won a $4.69 billion judgment that J&J appealed. J&J also won a defense verdict in 2019 as well. Despite that victory, the company recalled around 33,000 units of baby powder that contained talc when the FDA found asbestos in one sample.
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