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Johnson & Johnson Takes a Powder

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Johnson & Johnson Takes a Powder

The Wall Street Journal May 23, 2020
Legal ReformCivil Justice

If your baby has diaper rash, there may be a long trip in your future.

If you want Johnson & Johnson baby powder, stock up now or prepare to travel overseas. On Tuesday the company announced it will discontinue sales in the U.S. and Canada of talcum-based baby powder, which it has sold since 1894. America’s litigation-friendly legal system has subjected the company to a flood of baby-powder lawsuits, making it too expensive to sell in the U.S.

The first wave of lawsuits alleged that the product caused ovarian cancer—a claim the best medical science doesn’t support. A January study in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed more than 250,000 American women for 11 years and found no significant ovarian-cancer risk associated with talcum-powder use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention don’t list talc as an ovarian-cancer risk. The Food and Drug Administration has consistently found insufficient evidence to mandate an ovarian-cancer warning label on talcum powder.

In other developed countries, regulators would apply the best science and essentially end the matter. But not in the U.S., where claims that a product causes an injury are typically matters of state law. An FDA determination that a product is safe doesn’t usually preclude litigation alleging otherwise.

Continue reading the entire piece here at The Wall Street Journal (paywall)


James R. Copland is a senior fellow and director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of “The Unelected: How an Unaccountable Elite is Governing America,” forthcoming in September. Follow him on Twitter here.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images