More than two years after deciding to discontinue sales of Johnson’s Talc Baby Powder in Canada and the U.S., J&J announced a global removal next year. J&J also announced that it would replace its controversial talc ingredient with cornstarch, a replacement that can keep skin dry without potentially being contaminated with asbestos.
J&J is facing over 40,000 talc cancer lawsuits. Plaintiffs allege that long-term use of talc powder caused them to either develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. Dozens of non-profit organizations had called on J&J to remove its talc-based powders off shelves all over the world after the company announced in May 2020 that it would no longer supply the North American market with new stock of talc-based baby powder.
Facing $3.5 billion in litigation costs over talc lawsuits, including a 2018 jury verdict that awarded 20 women $2.5 billion, J&J earlier this year formed a sub-entity called LTL Management that would hold the parent company’s talc liabilities. After LTL Management was formed, J&J had the subunit file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a slick legal maneuver criticized as a Texas Two-Step.
If the bankruptcy judge responsible for overseeing LTL Management blocks Chapter 11 proceedings, J&J has said that it would form a new company for its consumer health products.