Did They Knowingly Sell Baby Powder Containing…Asbestos?
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Johnson & Johnson stock plummeted 10% after Reuters published an investigative piece stating the company knew the raw materials for some of its talcum powder contained small amounts of asbestos from the early seventies until the 2000s.
Most test results Reuters reviewed did not show asbestos. Yet the report said Johnson & Johnson failed to report some that did to the Food and Drug Administration and the public.
In addition to public court documents, Reuters said it was reporting on records filed under seal. The confidential information included internal communications evidencing a debate about asbestos found in the raw material—talc mined in Vermont and elsewhere.
According to the company, the Reuters report “is false and inflammatory’’ and amounts to a conspiracy theory.
Jury Awards Billions
The company has been grappling with a number of lawsuits on behalf of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.
And in a trial earlier this year, 22 women won $4.7 billion in their lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson over ovarian cancer claims. Johnson & Johnson said it will appeal the award, approved by a St. Louis jury.
Other ovarian cancer cases, heard in New Jersey and Missouri, found for Johnson & Johnson.
Now, the company is in the news again, for reportedly making long-time, deliberate efforts to convince regulators that its talc products were asbestos-free. It submitted safe test results to the FDA, Reuters reports—but did not turn in results from talc containing asbestos.
FDA on Talc
Johnson & Johnson told Reuters that test results revealing possible asbestos were from industrial talc, not used in cosmetics.
The FDA, which regulates cosmetics, says a cancer link is not conclusively proven, or what risk factors might be involved—yet the agency calls asbestos a known carcinogen and says it’s “essential to select talc mining sites carefully” and “purify the ore sufficiently.”
Cosmetics companies have had voluntary guidelines since the seventies to keep talcum products asbestos-free.
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