Johnson & Johnson Issues First-Ever Baby Powder Recall Due to Asbestos

bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder

Amidst more than 15,000 lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson recalls their once-beloved product, Johnson’s Baby Powder®. On Friday, October 18, 2019, the company announced the recall of over 33,000 bottles of the baby powder after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of chrysotile asbestos in a sample of the product. Johnson & Johnson is currently working with the FDA to assess the validity of their testing.

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Recall Overview

To date, Johnson & Johnson, manufacturer of products including Tylenol and Band-Aid, faces over 100,000 lawsuits related to the safety of its products. Over 15% of those lawsuits are tied to the alleged health risks of the company’s well-known and well-loved product Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Johnson’s Baby Powder has been on the market for over 100 years, and, as of late, the product has intense serious scrutiny as more and more users are falling ill to its negative health effects.

Recent News About Johnson & Johnson

  • July 2018: A St. Louis jury orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.69 Billion to 22 women whose cancer was said to be caused by asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder.
  • February 2019: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigate claims that Johnson’s Baby Powder contains asbestos.
  • September 2019: Johnson & Johnson faces multimillion-dollar verdicts in favor of several people who claim they developed mesothelioma from the company’s baby powder.
  • October 2019: FDA tests find trace amounts of asbestos in a sample of Johnson & Johnson baby powder shipped to the U.S. in 2018.

Health Effects of Johnson’s Baby Powder

For decades, mothers have used Johnson’s Baby Powder on their babies — and themselves — believing the product is safe, gentle, and trustworthy. Now, thousands of lawsuits are claiming the opposite.

Namely, Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits allege that the product caused various types of cancer, specifically ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, among users.

Mesothelioma is a type of fatal cancer with only one known cause: asbestos exposure.

Johnson's Baby Powder Lawsuits

On September 11, 2019, a New Jersey court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $37.3 Million to four people who developed mesothelioma from the company’s baby powder.

For decades, Johnson & Johnson has denied that their baby powder contains asbestos. Now, all of the plaintiffs who claim their mesothelioma is the result of asbestos-contaminated baby powder have the FDA to help support their claim.

Causes of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Recall

While people have claimed for years that the baby powder caused their cancer, Johnson & Johnson is only now issuing a recall on their once-trusted product. Why? The company’s shocking voluntary recall comes as a result of FDA intervention.

The government agency conducted a random test on a single bottle of Johnson’s baby powder and found traces of chrysotile asbestos in the sample. Since asbestos is a known carcinogen, its discovery in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder greatly discredits the company’s insistent claims that its products are perfectly safe.

Due to the FDA findings, Johnson & Johnson voluntarily recalled over 33,000 bottles of baby powder belonging to the lot number #22318RB. The asbestos-contaminated shipment was sent to the U.S. in 2018, and, as of now, it is the only shipment being recalled.

The FDA acquired the baby powder sample from an online retailer who has not been identified at this time.

Recall Consequences for Johnson & Johnson

Spokespersons from Johnson & Johnson emphasized that the FDA detected a very low level of asbestos in the baby powder sample. In fact, the asbestos levels only amounted to a fraction of 1% of the sample.

The Truth About Asbestos

The World Health Organization (WHO) makes it clear that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.

Still, the pharmaceutical company continues to downplay the risks of asbestos, stating that the recall is simply an “abundance of caution” and that they plan to work with the FDA to ensure the agency’s tests were valid.

After the recall announcement on Friday, October 18, 2019, Johnson & Johnson’s total stock value fell over 6%, equating to nearly $24 Billion. Further, it is estimated that the lawsuits surrounding Johnson’s baby powder could cost the company approximately $5-10 Billion.

One analyst from Forrester, Alla Valente, sums it up like this: “The dam is finally breaking, where consumers are saying that enough is enough.”

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: October 21, 2019

View 3 Sources
  1. New York Times. “Johnson & Johnson Recalls Asbestos-Tainted Baby Powder.” Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/18/business/johnson-johnson-baby-powder-recall.html. Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
  2. The Guardian, “Lawsuits, Payouts, Opioids Crisis: What Happened to Johnson & Johnson?” Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/18/johnson-and-johnson-opioids-lawsuits-product-recalls. Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
  3. Wall Street Journal, “J&J Recalls One Baby Powder Lot on Asbestos Concern.” Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/j-j-recalls-one-baby-powder-lot-on-asbestos-concern-11571408967. Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.