Is There a Recall on Johnson & Johnson Baby Products?

A brief look at Johnson & Johnson's current legal battles relating to the safety of its baby and talcum powder products.

Johnson & Johnson has issued a recall of its baby powder products after the US Food and Drug Administration learned of the small amounts of asbestos that the products contain. You might be thinking that trace amounts of asbestos can’t be too bad.

However, the World Health Organisation says that no small amount of asbestos exposure is safe. Trace amounts of asbestos can trigger asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.

Dragging Their Feet to Action

Throughout the scandal, the company has dragged its feet. Johnson & Johnson announced that it would stop selling baby powder on May 19, 2020, within the United States and Canada. This announcement comes even after the company began the recall of 33,000 bottles in October 2019. Why did it take Johnson & Johnson another eight months after the recall to announce the discontinuation of the product?

The company reportedly sat on the knowledge that asbestos found in its baby powder could kill for decades. Corporate executives from the company have known about the dangers since the late 1970s, unsealed documents revealed. Over 40 years, they have fought with a dangerous misinformation campaign.

The Bottles and the Recall

In particular, the FDA recalled the bottles from lot #22318RB. They didn’t recall another lot because they tested it and didn’t find asbestos. Many retailers didn’t feel reassured, and companies like Walmart, Rite Aid, and CVS removed all of the 22-ounce bottles from shelves, not wanting to take risks.

Trace amounts of asbestos can trigger asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.

Never Admitting Fault

Johnson & Johnson didn’t admit fault even when they decided to stop selling the baby powder. Instead of confessing that they made an atrocious mistake, they instead claimed that they would stop selling the baby powder because of low sales and the COVID-19 pandemic. The company never cited the asbestos in its products as the reason. They called it a market withdrawal or product discontinuation, rather than a recall.

How Discontinuation Could Impact the Lawsuits

One pharmaceutical litigation expert noted how the discontinuation of the baby powder could lead to further lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson. There are many people who still haven’t heard the news that their baby powder can cause cervical cancer. When the company decided to discontinue its baby powder, this led to more people learning of the problem.

Those who developed cervical cancer and learned of its link to asbestos could choose to file a lawsuit. Many law firms see this as blood in the water, and they will come swarming in for a piece of the action.

Many lawyers could use the fact that Johnson & Johnson pulled the product from shelves as evidence of the dangers. You have three things that will help litigation against Johnson & Johnson:

  • The recall of 33,000 bottles
  • Discontinuation of selling the baby powder
  • Daubert ruling allowing for Johnson & Johnson’s experts to defend the product

All three of these things will improve the chances that the company will enter talks for further settlements. Johnson & Johnson was reportedly aware of the product’s cancer risk, which only exacerbates the problem. The company sat on this knowledge without acting to keep consumers safe.

For years, Johnson & Johnson has insisted that the company’s baby powder products remain safe. While the recall of baby powder was done voluntarily in 2019, Johnson & Johnson never admitted that the talcum powder was unsafe. The recall is simply the latest bad news for the company. It also faces legal claims over other products, like its opioids and metal-on-metal hips.

A healthcare giant, Johnson & Johnson faces over 100,000 lawsuits in total from all of its products. This could lead to some hefty litigation costs, and the baby powder has already cost the company $2.2 billion.

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