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Johnson & Johnson to stop selling talc-based baby powder

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J&J to end talc-based baby powder sales

Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday it is discontinuing sales of its legacy talc-based baby powders in the United States and Canada after thousands of suits alleging asbestos contamination led to a decline in sales.

The health-care giant said it has stopped shipping hundreds of talc-based items in the United States and Canada after coming to a “commercial decision” to discontinue them. J&J will wind down sales in those markets over the coming months, said Kathleen Widmer, chairwoman of the company’s North America consumer unit. All existing inventory will continue to be sold through retailers until supplies run out, she said.

J&J has faced lawsuits accusing it of hiding the cancer risks tied to its talc-based version of baby powder since 2014. Juries across the United States have hit the company with billions of dollars in actual and punishment damages over their handling of the 127-year-old product. J&J has been successful in getting many of those verdicts reduced or wiped out on appeal.

J&J’s cornstarch-based baby powder, which has been on the market since 1980, will continue to be sold in the United States and Canada. Widmer said 75 percent of its U.S. baby-power customers use the cornstarch product, while 25 percent rely on the talc-based product. Outside the United States, those numbers are reversed, Widmer said.

Talcum powder has long been a mainstay of baby products because the mineral keeps skin dry and prevents diaper rash. Talc mines, however, can also yield asbestos, a mineral once used in products such as building insulation.

— Bloomberg News

FAA to change reviews of aircraft designs

The Federal Aviation Administration released multiple steps it plans to take to change how it reviews aircraft designs, a process that was criticized after two fatal crashes on Boeing’s 737 Max.

The agency is planning on updating regulations to require better internal safety systems at plane makers and is reexamining how it assumes pilots will react to failures, the agency said in a report to the Transportation Department on Tuesday. The report is a response to a blue-ribbon panel’s review in January that found agency needed to update its practices. The 737 Max, Boeing’s best-selling jet, was grounded in March 2019 after the second of two fatal crashes linked to a system malfunction that drove down the nose.

The FAA said the report had found its existing safety processes are generally sound, but they highlight areas where improvement is needed.

— Bloomberg News

EasyJet: Data breach affected 9 million

EasyJet said email addresses and travel data of about 9 million customers had been accessed in a “highly sophisticated” cyberattack, one of the biggest data breaches to hit the airline industry.

Credit card details for 2,208 customers had also been accessed, easyJet said in a statement Tuesday. It said it has closed off the unauthorized access and will contact customers over the next few days.

Cyberattacks against businesses and their employees have surged this year as hackers take advantage of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Airlines have had several high-profile breaches in recent years.

EasyJet is already battling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which have forced it to ground planes and triggered a revolt by its founder and biggest shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

An influx of employees working from home has opened up new network vulnerabilities for many companies, and phishing emails purporting to be from trusted health agencies prey on employees looking for information.

— Bloomberg News

Google says it will no longer build custom artificial intelligence tools for speeding up oil and gas extraction, separating itself from cloud computing rivals Microsoft and Amazon. A statement from the company Tuesday followed a Greenpeace report that documents how the three tech giants are using AI and computing power to help oil companies find and access oil and gas deposits in the United States and around the world. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

— From news services

2 p.m.: Federal Reserve releases minutes from April interest-rate meeting.

Earnings: Target.