Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, $165.30) is to stop selling and making talc-based baby powder globally, two years after it ended sales in the US and Canada. It has faced tens of thousands of lawsuits from consumers who allege its talc products, including the instantly recognisable brand of Johnson’s baby powder, caused them to develop cancer.
The company reiterated its view that decades of independent research shows the product is safe to use. Johnson stated that, "As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio."
The company faces about 38,000 lawsuits from consumers and their survivors claiming its talc products caused cancer due to contamination with asbestos, a known carcinogen.
Why it matters
Johnson's Baby Powder had long been a symbol of the company's family-friendly image. And yet over the years as the lawsuits came streaming in - the product became a blot on the company’s portfolio. Despite the decision to stop selling talc-based products and end global sales, it brings up the question of whether the brand will be able to recover its family-friendly brand persona.