n 1894, Johnson & Johnson introduced one of the most iconic products: Johnson’s Baby Powder. Its “benefits” spread all over the world and very quickly earned a cult status everywhere. It was a simple white bottle and it was present in most households everywhere for decades. Moms after diaper changes on babies and themselves to care for their most intimate parts.
J&J’s formula was made from crushed talc. It kept the skin dry and prevented diaper rash. For much of the whole 20th century, most companies promoted talc as harmless, a naturally occurring magical mineral. But ], talc deposits are naturally found mingled with asbestos deposits, this raised many concerns that talc products could be contaminated with the toxic asbestos.
Johnson and Johnson did test its products for many years, but they did it wrongly knowingly form the beginning, They only tested a small sample of their products. Then, when even those small samples did not give them the results they desired, Johnson and Johnson continued to manipulate and ignore the results of those tests for decades.
The earliest reports of asbestos in J&J talc products can be found in the late 1950s. They did not inform the FDA that at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 had found asbestos in its talc. They lied to the FDA and told them that no asbestos was “detected in any sample” of talc produced between December 1972 and October 1973. This cover-up continued for many years.
Only in the ’80s, after consumer associations raised concerns that talc contained traces of asbestos, made the company develop a cornstarch alternative. However, they never stop making their talc bestseller.
It was only in 2017 after J&J began to face lawsuits over the scientific evidence showing a statistically significant association between the use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene and ovarian cancer. Since then, juries across the nation have awarded billions of dollars to women and families after hearing evidence that Johnson & Johnson knowingly purposely failed to warn about the dangers of talc powder use.
In May of 2020, they announced that it would discontinue the manufacturing and distribution of its legendary talc-based Baby Powder, citing a decline in sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We must note that these changes will only affect the U.S. and Canada since the company plans to continue selling talc-based products in the rest of the world.