After years of denying talcum powder’s link to cancer, Johnson & Johnson initiated the massive baby powder recall after officials discovered the presence of asbestos in the popular hygiene product.
After substantial testing, the FDA discovered sub-trace levels of chrysotile asbestos in Johnson & Johnson baby powder sold by an online retailer. The recall, issued October 18th, effects nearly 30,000 bottles of J&J baby powder with the lot number #22318RB.
“I understand today’s recall may be concerning to all those individuals who may have used the affected lot of baby powder. I want to assure everyone that the agency takes these concerns seriously and that we are committed to our mandate of protecting the public health,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. in the FDA’s press release. “The FDA continues to test cosmetic products that contain talc for the presence of asbestos to protect Americans from potential health risks.”
The FDA has been investigating asbestos in talcum powder cosmetic products since 2018, testing nearly 50 products so far. For Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, two lots of J&J talcum powder were tested by the FDA; one tested positive for asbestos while the other did not. Many have raised the question of how widespread the issue of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson baby powder is.
So far, Johnson & Johnson has attempted to deny the discovery, claiming that the FDA recall did not say whether there was cross-contamination, if the FDA’s sample came from a bottle with an intact seal, or whether the tested product was counterfeit. However, the FDA stands behind their testing and results, seeming to upend decades of Johnson & Johnson’s denial of the link between talcum powder and asbestos.
Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of baby powder and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits across the U.S. from injured talcum powder users.
Each of these lawsuits involve similar claims that talcum powder use contributed to individuals developing cancer, including asbestos-linked mesothelioma and ovarian cancer in women using baby powder in the genital region.
Since the recall’s announcement, the company’s stock has fallen 4% as investors raise concerns over the asbestos discovery and how it will impact the talcum powder lawsuits currently pending in the federal court system.
Recent verdicts have found Johnson & Johnson talc products to be the cause of individuals cancer diagnoses. Last month, a California jury awarded $40 million dollars to a woman who was diagnosed with mesothelioma after using Johnson & Johnson talc products.
In a landmark verdict, a Missouri jury awarded 22 women $4.7 billion dollars for their ovarian cancer caused by regular exposure to Johnson & Johnson talcum powder. Several other trials across different state courts have resulted in multi-million damage awards for talcum powder injuries.
Not only does J&J face over 13,000 injury lawsuits, but the U.S. Justice Department has instigated a criminal investigation into whether Johnson & Johnson knew about the cancer risks of their talcum powder and lied to the public about it. Even with the criminal investigation underway and the asbestos discovery announcement, Johnson & Johnson still maintain the safety of their infamous talc-based product.