(AP) – Johnson & Johnson is pulling baby powder containing talc worldwide next year after it did the same in the U.S. and Canada amid thousands of lawsuits claiming it caused cancer.
Talc will be replaced by cornstarch, the company said.
The company has faced litigation alleging its talcum powder caused users to develop ovarian cancer, through use for feminine hygiene, or mesothelioma, a cancer that strikes the lungs and other organs.
J&J insists, and the overwhelming majority of medical research on talc indicates, that the talc baby powder is safe and doesn’t cause cancer.
However, demand for the company’s baby powder fell off, and J&J removed the talc-based product in most of North America in 2020.
The company did so after it saw demand drop due to “misleading talc litigation advertising that caused global confusion and unfounded concern,” about product safety a company spokeswoman said.
J&J said the change announced late Thursday will simplify its product selection and meet evolving global trends.
Last October, J&J said a separate subsidiary it created to manage talc litigation claims had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
J&J said then that it funded the subsidiary, named LTL Management, and established a $2 billion trust to pay claims the bankruptcy court determines that it owes.
The health care giant also said last fall that it will turn its consumer health business — which sells the baby powder, Band-Aids and other products — into a separate publicly traded company. The part of the company selling prescription drugs and medical devices will keep the J&J name.
Shares of Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, rose slightly before the opening bell Friday. The stock has performed better than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, of which J&J is a member, for most of the year.