Johnson & Johnson ‘KNEW their baby powder contained cancer-causing asbestos’ says report

Johnson and Johnson

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".

Shares of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) fell over 6% after Reuters reported that the pharmaceutical company knew that its baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.

So far, the company has suffered several multimillion-dollar losses in cases alleging the product causes cancer.

A case in July, in which a judge ordered the company to pay $4.69bn in damages to 22 parties, was the first to succeed with a claim that the talc caused ovarian cancer.

J&J was found to have known about the presence of small amounts of asbestos in its products from as early as 1971, a Reuters examination of company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents showed.

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

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The World Health Organisation now recognises no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

The investigation centres on a cache of documents released by Johnson & Johnson relating to the 11,700 plaintiffs claiming that the company's talc caused their cancers.

Despite the company's stance on talc safety, plaintiffs aren't giving up.

But a 2017 verdict in California, as well as other verdicts in Missouri, have been overturned on appeal, while challenges to another five verdicts are pending. In a statement, the company said, "The Reuters article is one-sided, false and inflammatory".

J&J has responded via a CNBC report, saying "Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory, in that it apparently has spanned over 40 years, orchestrated among generations of global regulators, the world's foremost scientists and universities, leading independent labs, and J&J employees themselves".

Attorney Peter Bicks told Reuters in an email: "The scientific consensus is that the talc used in talc-based body powders does not cause cancer, regardless of what is in that talc". Barclays analyst Geoff Meacham said concerns related to asbestos being sometimes present in baby powder have been an overhang for some time and the report doesn't materially change the outlook for the company. She sued the company, they claimed it was "asbestos-free", and because the burden of proof was on her, they didn't have to turn over records or results-even after tests revealed that the mesothelioma was consistent with the fibrous asbestos often found in talc.

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