Listerine is a mouthwash product. It is promoted with the slogan “Kills germs that cause bad breath”. Named after Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, a pioneer of antiseptic surgery, Listerine was developed in 1879 by Joseph Lawrence, a chemist in St. Louis, Missouri.
Originally marketed by the Lambert Pharmacal Company, Listerine has been manufactured and distributed by Johnson & Johnson since that company’s acquisition of Pfizer’s consumer healthcare division in late December 2006.
There has been concern that the use of alcohol-containing mouthwash such as Listerine may increase the risk of developing oral cancer. As of 2010, 7 meta-analyses have found no connection between alcohol-containing mouthwashes and oral cancer, and 3 have found increased risk. In January 2009, Andrew Penman, chief executive of The Cancer Council New South Wales, called for further research on the matter. In a March 2009 brief, the American Dental Association said “the available evidence does not support a connection between oral cancer and alcohol-containing mouthrinse”.
In 2009, Johnson and Johnson launched a new alcohol-free version of the product called Listerine Zero.
On April 11, 2007, McNeil-PPC disclosed that there were potentially contaminants in all Listerine Agent Cool Blue products sold since its launch in 2006, and that all bottles were being recalled. The recall affected some 4,000,000 bottles sold since that time. According to the company, Listerine Agent Cool Blue is the only product affected by the contamination and no other products in the Listerine family were under recall.