Healthcare company Johnson & Johnson on Thursday announced that it will stop selling its baby talcum powder globally from 2023. The product had already been discontinued in the United States and Canada two years back.

The decision came amid thousands of legal battles the company faces on the safety of the product. According to Reuters, Johnson & Johnson faces about 38,000 lawsuits that claim its talcum products cause cancer due to contamination with asbestos.

“As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement on Thursday. “...This transition will help simplify our product offerings, deliver sustainable innovation, and meet the needs of our consumers, customers and evolving global trends.”

It has been alleged that the company’s baby powder caused Mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs and other organs commonly caused by asbestos.

Asbestos is known to cause cancer that only emerges decades after being exposed to it.

In 2018, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.7 billion (Rs 37,476 crore) in damages to 22 women who claimed they had developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s talcum products.

Johnson & Johnson, however, has repeatedly maintained that its talcum products are safe and do not cause cancer.

In Thursday’s statement too, the company said that its position on the safety standards of the talcum powder remains unchanged.

“We stand firmly behind the decades of independent scientific analysis by medical experts around the world that confirms talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer,” it said.

In 2019, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in India had directed Johnson & Johnson to withdraw a batch of its baby shampoo that allegedly contained harmful chemicals. The order came after a Rajasthan government laboratory had found formaldehyde in two batches of Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo.

Formaldehyde is known to be a carcinogen – substances that cause cancer.