Johnson & Johnson will stop selling its iconic but increasingly controversial talc baby powder in the U.S. and Canada, the company announced Tuesday. The announcement comes as the company faces more than 19,000 lawsuits from consumers who say the product was contaminated with asbestos and caused them or their loved ones to develop cancer, Reuters reported. Johnson & Johnson continues to insist the product is safe, but a 2018 Reuters investigation found that the company had known its talc products sometimes tested positive for asbestos since at least 1971 and had failed to inform the public. "It means no more little girls are going to go through what we went through," Krystal Kim, who was part of a victorious lawsuit against the company in 2018 after developing ovarian cancer following a lifetime use of the baby powder, told The New York Times. "This stops now. That monster is off the shelves."
Because talc and asbestos sometimes occur side by side, it is possible for talc to be contaminated with asbestos during the mining process. Thousands of women who used the product sued after developing ovarian cancer, which was linked to asbestos in 1958. A smaller number developed mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer often connected to asbestos. In October 2019, the company recalled 33,000 bottles after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found trace amounts of asbestos in one of them. Also in 2019, the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy began a 14-month investigation that showed Johnson & Johnson knew about the asbestos risks for decades. "Today, in a major victory for public health, Johnson & Johnson's asbestos-containing baby powder finally will be taken off store shelves," Subcommittee chair Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said in a statement.