Bausch quietly replaced talc in body powder ahead of J&J recall

Bloomberg reported this week that earlier this year, Bausch Health Cos. Inc., manufacturer of Shower to Shower, quietly reformulated the body powder, replacing the talcum powder in the product with cornstarch, “to keep the product in line with market trends and customer preferences,” company spokeswoman Lainie Keller said in a statement. “This formula change was not made due to any safety concerns,” according to the statement.

The reformulation revelation comes after Johnson & Johnson last month issued a recall of one lot – about 33,000 bottles – of 22-ounce bottles of its talc-containing Johnson’s Baby Powder after testing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed the talc was contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen. The announcement prompted several retailers like CVS Health, Walmart, and Rite Aid to pull all 22-ounce bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder – including those not named in the recall – out of concern.

Bausch said the last talc-containing lot of Shower to Shower was distributed in February.

Shower to Shower was manufactured by Johnson & Johnson until 2012, when Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc., Bausch’s predecessor, purchased the rights to the product for $150 million.

Since then, both Johnson & Johnson and Bausch have faced lawsuits alleging they knew but failed to warn that their talcum powder products contained asbestos and that the products have contributed to mesothelioma and ovarian cancer diagnoses. Johnson & Johnson also faces claims that its talcum powder, even without the presence of asbestos, causes ovarian cancer when applied to the genitals for feminine hygiene.

“While choosing to not inform consumers of the reformulation of a former J&J product, at least the new seller of Shower to Shower has made a responsible decision to remove talc from the product,” Beasley Allen lawyer Ted Meadows said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg. “Thus far, J&J has refused to take a similar step to protect the public and stop the production of talc-based Baby Powder.”

According to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, Johnson & Johnson is responsible for Bausch’s liability in any talc lawsuits involving Shower to Shower until March 2020.

Beasley Allen’s Talc Litigation team, led by Ted Meadows and Leigh O’Dell, has been privileged to represent thousands of women who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder on their genitals for feminine hygiene and continues to investigate these cases.

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