Reports Indicate Johnson & Johnson Knew That Their Talc Based Products Contained Traces of Asbestos
Johnson & Johnson has recently been facing lawsuits alleging that the company’s talcum powder-based products contain asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a carcinogenic substance that can cause severe cases of cancer. Johnson & Jonson has long argued that their products, such as baby powder and Shower to Shower were safe for use, but a recent report alleges that the company was aware of the presence of the carcinogen in its products and that they knew as much for decades.
Recently, Reuters published the results of an investigation which indicates that the since about 1971, and up until the 2000s, the company’s talc had been shown to contain asbestos. Most of the talc did not contain asbestos, according to laboratory tests, but there is evidence that the company was aware of tests that did indicate the presence of asbestos contamination.
As a result of the report, the price of Johnson & Johnson’s stock took a hit and dropped by about 10 percent. Officials from the company worried about the test results, but never disclosed the results of the tests to either regulators or the public.
Johnson & Johnson argued that the report was false, a conspiracy theory, and one-sided. The company has been facing lawsuits from plaintiffs who are claiming that the product caused them to develop mesothelioma, cancer that is known to result from asbestos exposure, and ovarian cancer.
Lawsuits Have Been Filed Over Ovarian Cancer and Mesothelioma
Despite the company’s arguments that their products are safe, a St. Louis jury found in favor of plaintiffs with Ovarian cancer and issued an award of $4.7 billion. Johnson & Johnson is still saying that baby powder and Shower to Shower do not contain asbestos and that the products do not cause any harm.
Reuters managed to access thousands of documents were previously filed under seal, and not available to the public.
Talc is a type of mineral that forms in the earth, and that sometimes contains asbestos, which also forms naturally. Asbestos has been banned from cosmetic products since 1976 because of cancer concerns.
The report includes communications between executives who attempted to persuade industry regulators that small amounts of asbestos, which were located in the company’s talc, were not harmful to consumers.
Johnson & Johnson appears to have provided test results that were negative for asbestos to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) while keeping the documents that show contamination private.
The company’s attorneys informed Reuters that the talc which had trace amounts of asbestos was not used in baby powder but was used for industrial purposes instead.
Study Results Concerning Talc and Cancer are Uncertain
Even without asbestos, there are now some concerns over whether talc itself is safe for use in a woman’s genitals. Many women used talc as a feminine hygiene product, and according to the World Health Organization, there is some indication that the use of the product for this purpose could be linked to the development of ovarian cancer.
The American Cancer Society has stated that it is not entirely clear whether the product is or is not linked to ovarian cancer. Some studies have shown a small increase.
In 2014, the FDA declined to include a warning label on its talcum powder and stated that there was no link between the risk of ovarian cancer and talcum powder. However, the FDA also summarized in a study that the impact of the products on women’s genital tissues “have not been adequately investigated.”
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