Washington D.C. -- On May 19, 2020, Johnson and Johnson (J&J) announced that it would stop selling its talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada, though existing inventory will continue to be sold through retailers until it runs out.
Exposure to talc has been linked to ovarian carcinomas, gynecological tumors, and mesothelioma. Independent labs throughout the country and over the course of several decades have documented the presence of asbestos in consumer talcum products, including Johnson's Baby Powder.
The NWHN has fiercely advocated against the use of talc in cosmetics and personal care products, launching a high profile campaign for stronger regulations, testifying at the FDA and before Congress, publicizing J&J’s efforts to market baby powder to Black women and other women of color in the U.S. after internal documents revealed that they knew the product could be dangerous, and highlighting numerous discoveries of other asbestos-tainted talcum cosmetics products marketed to women and young girls.
“J&J’s decision will reduce unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals to millions of people in North America, especially Black women and women of color who have been aggressively targeted by J&J. This is an important step in the right direction,” explained M. Isabelle Chaudry, the NWHN’s Senior Policy Manager.
This week’s announcement represents a major victory for the NWHN and our allies who raised concerns about J&J’s talc-based baby powder. While the company continues to defend talc-based baby powder, this week’s statement acknowledges that advocacy campaigns like ours to warn women about talc’s dangers played a role in “declining [demand] due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product.”
But while we applaud this decision for North American women, we call on the company to halt sales of its talc-based baby powder worldwide and to recall existing inventory here at home. J&J’s decision to keep marketing the product internationally echoes their earlier efforts to double down on marketing to Black and Latinx women and other vulnerable populations. We also call on other companies engaged in manufacturing talc-based products to take action and do what is right for consumers.
The National Women’s Health Network is supported by our members and by choice we do not accept financial support from drug companies or medical device manufacturers. We bring the voices, concerns and needs of women consumers to policy and regulatory table.