Monday, 18 March, 2019

Johnson & Johnson reportedly knew about asbestos in its baby powder

Johnson and Johnson Johnson and Johnson
Ben Pena | 15 December, 2018, 02:29

We know this today in part because of Darlene Coker, who was dying of mesothelioma in 1997, had no idea why, and eventually concluded that it had something to do with the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder she'd been using her whole life.

The Reuters report and the documents it refers to are available online here.

Following the report, the publicly traded company's shares plummeted by more than 11 percent.

The report, which alleged that J&J didn't tell the Food and Drug Administration about at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 that found asbestos in its talcum powder, in one case at levels reported as "rather high", according to internal documents from the company. While juries in some cases have sided with the plaintiffs, some have sided with the company and others reached no verdicts.

Reuters' report also showed the company had commissioned and paid for studies conducted on its Baby Powder franchise and hired a ghost writer to redraft the article that presented the findings in a journal. "Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory".

The news agency said it showed the company, established in 1886, know of the positive tests, and that senior executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers anxious about how to address the problem, while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.

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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.

Furthermore, "company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public", Reuters reporter Lisa Girion wrote. Most of the talc cases have been brought by women with ovarian cancer who say they regularly used J&J talc products as a perineal antiperspirant and deodorant.

The report states that while most internal J&J tests did not find asbestos, the company has always faced limitations that allow trace contaminants to go undetected.

A third verdict in St Louis awarded 22 women $4.69billion in damages after they successfully claimed that the company's asbestos-tainted Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talc caused ovarian cancer. 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.

"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.

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