Aug 11, 2022 - Economy

Johnson & Johnson discontinues talc-based baby powder but says it's still safe

A baby powder bottle

In this photo illustration, a bottle of Johnson & Johnson baby powder is displayed on a table on November 12, 2021 in San Anselmo, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson said Thursday that it will discontinue its talc-based baby powder but insisted that the decision has nothing to do with the safety of the product, which has been accused of causing cancer.

Driving the news: J&J said it will transition to all cornstarch-based baby powder in 2023, completely phasing out talc-based powder globally after having already stopped sales in the U.S.

  • "Our position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged," J&J said in a statement, adding that the product is "safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer."
  • The company called the move a "commercial decision" that "will help simplify our product offerings, deliver sustainable innovation and meet the needs of our consumers, customers and evolving global trends."

The other side: The company faces some 38,000 lawsuits from people and their survivors claiming that J&J's talc products "caused cancer due to contamination with asbestos, a known carcinogen," Reuters reports.

  • Those lawsuits were paused after J&J placed its talc liabilities in a subsidiary, LTL Management, and put the unit into bankruptcy in October.
Go deeper