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Johnson & Johnson Tosses the Talc, Enters $1B Deal to Develop COVID-19 Vaccinations

Health products giant J&J will stop selling talc in Canada and US as evidence of risks pile up (as do lawsuits) but will continue in many other countries

by Mildred German

Poster for Toxic Beauty documentary
Poster for Toxic Beauty documentary
Unceded Territory (BC) - Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced on Monday, May 18, it was pulling its talc-based products off shelves in Canada and the U.S.
 
“Demand for talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising,” the world’s biggest maker of health care products said.
 
Due to its talc-based products, J&J’s has faced about 19,400 cases alleging its talcum powder caused users to develop ovarian cancer, and for allegedly failing to inform consumers its talcum powder contains asbestos. Asbestos exposure is linked to a form of cancer called mesothelioma.
 
The Irony Brought by the Talc-Powder
 
Thus, it is indeed ironic that an iconic J&J talc-based product is called “baby powder”. Although there is much research on how the use of talc is linked to women getting infertile and developing cancer in the ovaries, J&J’s advertisements often promote “baby fever.”
 
But the products do not contain any warning or label informing consumers of the scientific research showing the link between talc-based prodcuts and ovarian cancer and infertility. J&J has faced about 19, 400 cases alleging its talcum powder caused users to develop ovarian cancer, and for allegedly failing to inform consumers its talcum powder contains asbestos.

However, J&J spokeswoman Kimberly Montagnino said the company doesn’t plan to settle any of the lawsuits and “will continue to vigorously defend” the product.
 

Toxic Beauty. The People Vs Johnson & Johnson
 
Toronto-based award-winning film maker Phyllis Ellis’ latest film, Toxic Beauty, powerfully narrates the stories of people who fought and kept fighting the world’s largest  manufacturer of health care products, namely Johnson and Johnson (J&J).
 
In this documentary, U.S.-based medical doctor, researcher, and world-renowned professor and epidemiologist Dr. Daniel Cramer, MD, Sc.D, blows the whistle on the risk of talc in beauty products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder.
 
Dr. Cramer's warning was made in 1982. 38 years ago.
 
As the breaking news came so late for those previously affected and have died raising awareness and fighting the giant American multinational corporation, Toxic Beauty is also a powerful documentary of the long fight against the giant J&J corporation to toss the talc.
 
Produced by White Pine Pictures, Toxic Beauty is an expository about how fruitful it can be to question, to expose, and to oppose to fight for dear life and for others against toxic and carcinogenic corporations of any size.
 
As an American multinational corporation, the brand J&J dates back to 1893, and is the world’s largest manufacturer of health care products including medical devices, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaged goods.
 

Johnson’s & Johnson’s Talc-based Powder Will Still Be Sold Outside the U.S. and Canada Despite the Cornstarch Alternative

 
Despite there being a less-popular cornstarch powder-based alternative, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will still sell talc-based powder outside Canada & the U.S.
 
Scientific based studies on J&J products and public research and conversations on the risk of talc use are available, yet remain barely accessible, if not lacking \,in many countries outside North America and Europe.
 

Growing up in the Philippines, a rich tropical country where the sun is blazing hot, the use of “baby powder” is marketed heavily as a necessity. However, to afford the American brand J&J's products is a privilege for those who can afford it.
 

The use of baby powder is, in many places, commonly believed to absorb sweats to avoid developing rashes. It is also used to absorb sweat after a run or a game, thus to avoid getting soaked in moisture that is commonly believed may affect the lungs.
 
The “baby fever” advertisements and marketing schemes also made baby powder reach popularity and a necessity in changing diapers, embedded in the common belief baby powder absorbs moisture to avoid rashes, and to keep skin smooth, feeling fresh, and smelling good.
 
As J&J talc-based baby powder is iconic for its brand, fragrance, and “baby fever” advertisements and marketing schemes, and given the baby powder demand is still out there and so is the alternative cornstartch product, why not J&J ban talc use globally and alternate to their less-popular cornstarch instead?
 
Without parfum, will it be just the regular kitchen counter cornstarch? Why not just sell plain and simple cornstarch?
 

With a $1-B investment deal, why continue a controversial baby powder product amidst a global crisis and a pandemic?

 
In March 2020, a $1 billion deal to co-invest into vaccine research, development, and clinical testing was made between the U.S. government under President Donald Trump, and the J&J company, Forbes reported.
 
With no cure or successful vaccine yet developed for COVID-19, J&J anticipates the first batches of vaccine early 2021 to be available for emergency use.
 
As of Monday, May 18, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recorded 4.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 315,000 deaths worldwide. To date, mass testing of COVID-19 has not been fully implemented in Canada and the U.S.
 
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) stated on May 18th the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to prioritize “high-demand products” in order to make social distancing easier at manufacturing and distribution facilities.
 
For J&J to continue making the controversial talc-based baby powder product is to continue dealing with ever more class action lawsuits. With more and more businesses getting affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, J&J’s latest venture capitalism from baby powder to vaccinations is swift, made possible with government funding, and remnants of the controversial and inadequate regulations of beauty products here in North America and in many parts of the globe.
 
Can J&J be the most trusted name in developing the highly sought-after COVID-19 vaccine?

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