Major US retailers pull J&J’s talc from shelves over asbestos fears
A trio of major US retailers including Walmart are removing all 22-ounce bottles of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder from their shelves after last week’s asbestos scare.
CVS said on Thursday that it would remove bottles from its online shop, out of caution and to prevent customer confusion, although other sizes of the talcum powder will remain on its shelves.
Rite Aid told all its stores to pull all 22-ounce bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder from shelves on October 18th and store them in a secure location.
Reuters quoted company spokesman Chris Savarese, who said that there was a “point of sale system block” preventing the product from being sold.
CNBC reported that Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, had also removed and blocked all of the recalled baby powder.
Although baby powder only accounts for a small amount of J&J’s sales, it is one of the company’s iconic products and is seen as essential to maintain the firm’s ‘caring’ brand image.
J&J is facing thousands of lawsuits over several products, including claims that its talc products are linked with certain cancers.
Things got worse for the healthcare giant last week when it said it was recalling around 33,000 bottles of baby powder after health regulators found trace amounts of asbestos in samples taken from a bottle purchased online.
It was the first time J&J recalled its baby powder because of possible asbestos contamination, and the first time US regulators announced finding asbestos in the product.
A known carcinogen linked to diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestos can contaminate the mines that produce talc.
In a conference call with analysts covering the company’s Q3 results earlier this month, J&J’s chief financial officer brushed off concerns about the litigation issues that are hanging over the company.
Aside from the talc cases, a court has awarded $8 billion in damages to a man who claimed J&J failed to properly inform him about the side-effects of schizophrenia drug Risperdal before he went on to grow breasts.
J&J is also facing a raft of lawsuits related to its role in the opioid addiction crisis in the US.
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