NEW YORK, New York — The Chief Executive Officer for the multi-national pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson testified recently that he relied on the opinions of experts employed by Johnson & Johnson, or J&J, when telling the public while appearing on television that Johnson’s Baby Powder was safe for everyday use. Business Insider reported that J&J’s CEO testified during a hearing involving a lawsuit which alleges that J&J knew asbestos could be found in trace amounts in the popular talcum powder beauty product. J&J is fighting over 16,000 lawsuits that claim J&J knew asbestos contaminated the talcum powder it sold and concealed the facts from the consuming public.
The J&J CEO went to court recently to fight a trial subpoena that ordered him to testify in court concerning his knowledge about the dangers of talcum powder and its association with mesothelioma. The CEO claimed in court that he does not possess firsthand knowledge about the facts, and therefore, should not be compelled to testify in the pending trial. However, the trial judge ordered the CEO to testify. He reportedly told the jury that he had no first-hand information about the science his experts relied on to form their opinion. He also said that he trusted his employees’ opinions about the safety of the drug.
The case currently being tried in a New Jersey courtroom was filed by four female plaintiffs who argue that they developed mesothelioma after using J&J’s talcum baby powder. J&J denies the allegations. However, documents obtained from J&J reveal that the company knew about asbestos being combined in talc mining since 1971. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that 33,000 bottles of talcum powder had to be recalled because examiners found trace amounts of asbestos in the talc.
J&J continues to defend lawsuits alleging talcum powder caused cancer and other illness in faithful users of the product. J&J lost a trial last year, and the jury awarded the plaintiffs $37.2 million in damages.
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