Johnson & Johnson has decided to stop selling its talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the US and Canada.
The healthcare giant faces many thousands of lawsuits from consumers who claim that its talc products caused their cancer.
The company’s decision comes after years of litigation where it has been ordered to pay out billions of dollars in compensation.
J&J has consistently defended the safety of its talc products.
The company said it would wind down sales of the product, which makes up about 0.5% of its US consumer health business, in the coming months, but that retailers would continue to sell existing inventory.
It faces more than 16,000 consumer lawsuits alleging that the company’s talc products were contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen.
Johnson & Johnson said that demand for Johnson’s Baby Powder had been declining in North America “due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fuelled by misinformation around the safety of the product”.
It said it had faced “a constant barrage” of lawyers advertising for clients to sue the company.
“We remain steadfastly confident in the safety of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder. Decades of independent scientific studies by medical experts around the world support the safety of our product,” it said.
J&J added that the move was part of a reassessment of its consumer products prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The company said in October that its testing had found no asbestos in its Baby Powder after tests conducted by the FDA discovered trace amounts.
Johnson & Johnson is appealing against a 2018 order to pay $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women who alleged that its talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
US pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson say they will stop development of Alzheimer’s drug bapineuzumab, because it failed in two late-stage clinical trials.
Bapineuzumab, made by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, was designed to halt build-up of plaque in the brain.
But it failed to improve cognitive or functional performance compared with a placebo in certain patients.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, as well as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
An estimated 36 million people worldwide are believed to have dementia, including Alzheimer’s.
Bapineuzumab, made by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, was designed to halt build-up of plaque in the brain
Both firms announced on 23 July that the first clinical trial of the intravenous (IV) version of bapineuzumab had failed.
In that study, patients with a gene that is associated with a greater risk of Alzheimer’s were tested.
But results with the group were largely the same as with those who did not have the gene, who were tested in the second study.
The second trial’s end means that additional studies on the IV version will not take place; however, Johnson and Johnson said a study of subcutaneous use would continue.
Some had predicted that the IV studies of bapineuzumab would fail because they were treating those whose brains were already damaged.
“One of the strong thoughts in the field is that you really have to treat people before they become demented,” William Thies, chief scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Association told Reuters, adding that the announcement did not prevent the drug from being tested as a preventative.
And William Thies said that despite the trial’s failure, data from the experiment could still be useful.
“These studies are terribly important for us to learn about Alzheimer’s disease, and that part of the process is just starting as the data continues to be crunched in a variety of ways.”
Johnson and Johnson had agreed in 2009 to invest up to $1.5 billion in bapineuzumab.
In a statement, Steven Romano, head of Pfizer’s Medicines Development Group said they were “obviously very disappointed” with the trial’s outcome.
“We are also saddened by the lost opportunity to provide a meaningful advance for patients afflicted with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers,” he said.
A similar drug being developed by Eli Lilly, solanezumab, is also considered a long-shot to succeed, but results of the trials will not be available until later this year.