J&J to end sales of baby powder with talc globally next year

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. litigation / ˌlɪt ɪˈgeɪ ʃən / (n.) – the process of defending a case in a court of law

    The doctor is facing litigation for alleged malpractice.

  2. insist / ɪnˈsɪst / (v.) – to firmly say that something is true or right, even when people disagree

    Tony is demanding a refund, but the chef insists that there’s no problem with the food he made.

  3. overwhelming / ˌoʊ vərˈʰwɛl mɪŋ / (adj.) – very large in number, size, or force

    An overwhelming number of users accessed the website when the sale began.

  4. unfounded / ʌnˈfaʊn dɪd / (adj.) – not based on any facts or having no proof

    We decided to sue people who were spreading unfounded claims about our products.

  5. trust / trʌst / (n.) – a legal arrangement where an organization’s money is being controlled or managed by another organization

    The school established a trust that will fund scholarships and other development programs.


Read the text below.

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 August 11 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 August 12. The stock has performed better than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, of which J&J is a member, for most of the year.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • J&J will end the sales of its talc-based powder worldwide starting next year. Do you think companies should stop selling a product that gained a bad reputation? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Despite unfounded claims alleging that talcum powder causes cancer, J&J took measures to fund a subsidiary and establish a $2 billion trust to pay claims that the court determines that it owes. Do you agree with what they did, or do you think they should’ve appealed to the court about the claims? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Do you agree with using ingredients or materials found at home as alternatives to certain commercial products (ex. using lemon/baking soda instead of bleach for cleaning)? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • There are allegations about talc, but the majority of medical research indicates that talc-based baby powder is safe. Would you still be willing to use controversial products like this? Why or why not? Discuss.