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Johnson & Johnson drops talcum powder globally as lawsuits mount

3 min read
Johnson & Johnson drops talcum powder globally as lawsuits mount

Johnson & Johnson stated it plans to cease promoting its legacy talc-based baby-powder merchandise globally in 2023, a transfer that comes amid continued authorized battles and years after the corporate discontinued the product within the US and Canada.

J&J stated Thursday that it had made the “commercial decision” to transition all its child powder merchandise to make use of cornstarch as a substitute of talcum powder after conducting an evaluation of its portfolio. The well being conglomerate, which maintains the product is secure, has for nearly a decade confronted lawsuits accusing it of hiding most cancers dangers tied to its talc-based child powder.

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“We continuously evaluate and optimize our portfolio to best position the business for long-term growth,” spokesperson Melissa Witt stated in an emailed assertion. “Today’s decision is part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, which evaluated several factors, including differences in demand for our products across geographic regions and evolving consumer trends and preferences.”

Shares of the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based firm rose lower than 1% in post-market buying and selling and had fallen 2.3% to date this yr by Thursday’s shut.

In May 2020, as J&J navigated hundreds of lawsuits accusing the product of inflicting some customers’ cancers, the corporate pulled its talc-based powders from the US and Canadian markets, citing one other “commercial decision” primarily based on declining gross sales.

“After decades of selling talc-based products the company knew could cause deadly cancers to unsuspecting women and men around the world, J&J has finally done the right thing,” Leigh O’Dell, a lawyer for former talc customers, stated in an emailed assertion Thursday. “They stopped sales in North America more than two years ago. The delay in taking this step is inexcusable.”

Talcum Powder

Talcum powder has lengthy been utilized in child merchandise as a result of the mineral retains pores and skin dry and prevents diaper rash. The mines that produce the powder, nevertheless, can even yield asbestos, a mineral as soon as utilized in merchandise corresponding to constructing insulation that researchers have linked to cancers. Some client firms have discovered corn starch can supply the identical advantages of talc with out the asbestos threat.

J&J stated Thursday that its “position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged.”

The well being conglomerate has spent years searching for methods to include its authorized liabilities. It faces 40,300 lawsuits within the US over its talc-based powders, in keeping with an organization submitting final month with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

J&J sought chapter safety for its newly created LTL Management LLC unit final yr after arguing it was struggling to include the lawsuits.

$2 Billion Trust

The firm put $2 billion right into a belief as a part of the unit’s chapter to resolve all present and future talc claims. In February, a decide stated the case may proceed with the intention to search settlements, however his ruling is being appealed.

Lawyers for former talc customers have challenged J&J’s transfer to have the unit search Chapter 11 safety to cope with the talc unit. A federal appeals court docket in Philadelphia will hear plaintiffs’ arguments Sept. 19 that the transfer amounted to a “bad faith” chapter submitting as a result of they contend J&J’s monetary place wasn’t threatened by the talc litigation.

In court docket filings, J&J’s attorneys have famous the corporate bumped into obstacles in figuring out a world settlement of the talc circumstances and confronted mounting authorized prices. The drugmaker’s attorneys famous it paid greater than $1 billion in authorized charges over the past 5 years within the talc circumstances and needed to cope with inconsistent jury verdicts.

J&J has been compelled to pay about $3.5 billion in settlements to date to resolve talc circumstances, in keeping with the corporate’s chapter filings. A 2018 jury verdict out of state court docket in St. Louis finally compelled J&J to pay $2.5 billion to twenty ladies who focused its child powder for his or her ovarian most cancers. Both the Missouri Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court refused to overturn the decision.

Meanwhile, J&J plans to interrupt off its client well being enterprise right into a standalone firm subsequent yr in a transfer that authorized specialists say may assist it isolate legal responsibility ought to the Chapter 11 automobile not succeed.