American company Johnson & Johnson is ending sales of its popular talcum powder in the U.S. and Canada. The product is called Johnson's Baby Powder. Its demand has decreased in recent years as a result of thousands of lawsuits claiming it has caused cancer.
The company, also known as J&J, is the world's biggest maker of health care products. It said the product will still be sold outside the U.S. and Canada.
J&J said decreasing demand was mainly caused by changes in consumer buying behavior "fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product." It also blamed major advertising campaigns launched by law firms.
The company faces about 19,400 lawsuits claiming its talcum powder caused users to develop some forms of cancer.
Of the cases that went to trial, J&J has had 12 wins, 15 losses and seven mistrials. All of the losses have either been overturned on appeal or are still under appeal.
The company claims the talcum powder is safe and doesn't cause cancer.
"Whether or not the powder actually causes cancer, people became hesitant to use the product," Erik Gordon said in an email to The Associated Press. He is a professor at the University of Michigan's business school.
J&J representative Kimberly Montagnino said the company does not plan to settle any of the lawsuits and will continue to strongly defend the product.
The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company said the baby powder decision came as it moves to discontinue about 100 consumer health products. It said its aim is to push products that are in high demand during the coronavirus crisis and permit effective social distancing in its factories.
J&J will still sell its less-popular cornstarch-based baby powder in North America.
I'm Alice Bryant.