Health Care

Johnson & Johnson knew about asbestos in its baby powder for decades, report

Johnson & Johnson knew about asbestos in its baby powder for decades, report”

The report stated that Johnson & Johnson had been sued by thousands of people, including many women, who claimed the powder was unsafe to their health and that the company didn't notify consumers.

The investigation also found that the pharmaceutical company had employed a range of tactics to shape research into the problem and protect its Baby Powder brand.

"The Reuters article is one-sided, false and inflammatory", Johnson & Johnson said in a lengthy statement about the report. In a major setback to the company, St. Louis jury in July had awarded almost $4.7 billion in total damages to 22 women and their families after they claimed asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer in the first case against the company that focused on asbestos in the powder.

According to Reuters, which said it examined company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents from lawyers for some of the 11,700 plaintiffs claiming the baby powder caused their cancer, from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company's "raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos".

Earlier this year, the company was ordered to pay billions to 22 women who alleged that the company's products containing talc also contained asbestos and caused their cancer.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N fell 10 percent on Friday and were on track to post their biggest percentage drop in more than 16 years, after Reuters reported that the pharma major knew for decades that cancer-causing asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder.

While, over the past two decades, some legal challenges claiming that Johnson & Johnson products were tainted with asbestos and caused cancer have been unsuccessful, three recent developments seem to signal a shift.

Now, thanks to a Reuters special report, we know that J&J was lying. "Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory".

Incredibly, while all this was happening, J&J also tried successfully to "influence USA regulators' plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on the health effects of talc". But in many instances, J&J has been able to overturn the verdicts on appeal. "The scientific consensus is that the talc used in talc-based body powders does not cause cancer, regardless of what is in that talc".

"We believe it is highly unlikely the company's exposure to this talc issue will even come close to the $40 billion in lost market cap today", J.P. Morgan analysts said.

The results of lawsuits taken against J&J have been mixed.

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