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J&J discontinues talc baby powder in US and Canada as lawsuits mount

Consumer goods giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will stop selling its famed talc-based baby-powder products in the US and Canada as lawsuits continue to mount over alleged asbestos contamination, which has led to a decline in sales.

The healthcare giant announced on Tuesday that it had stopped shipping hundreds of talc-based items to these regions after conducting a portfolio assessment related to COVID-19.

J&J said it would wind down sales of the product, which makes up about 0.5 per cent of its US consumer health business, in the coming months, but retailers will continue to sell existing inventory.

J&J blamed declining demand in North America on changes in consumer habits which it said has been “fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising”.

The company faces more than 16,000 lawsuits from consumers claiming its talc products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder, caused their cancer.

J&J said it “remains steadfastly confident in the safety of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder,” citing “decades of scientific studies.”

J&J in December said its testing found no asbestos in its Baby Powder after tests conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration discovered trace amounts. In October 2019, J&J recalled around 33,000 bottles of its baby powder in the US in response to the health regulator’s findings.

Reuters reported late in 2018 that the company had known for decades that its talc prodcuts contained asbestos.

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