Johnson & Johnson Knew Talcum Powder Contained Asbestos for Decades
A recent report issued by Reuters suggests executives and other officials within Johnson & Johnson (J&J) have known for decades that the talcum used to create the company’s signature baby powder products contained asbestos, and failed to notify federal regulators. An article summarizing the findings is available here.
A History of Suppression
After examining trial depositions, witness testimony, and other documents, Reuters maintains J&J has been aware since at least 1971 that their talc products tested positive for asbestos. Their findings allege executives, doctors, lawyers, managers, and scientists knew—yet did not disclose the information to the public or to federal regulators. Reuters suggests J&J tried to change regulations to limit asbestos in cosmetic products and influence research on potentially negative effects.
A Manufacturer’s Denial
According to statements from Johnson & Johnson’s media relations department, the plaintiffs’ attorneys are “out for personal financial gain.” J&J counter that any suggestion that the company “knew or hid information about the safety of talc” is false. They further suggest that the plaintiffs’ attorneys are actively “distorting historical documents and intentionally creating confusion.” The company insists their products are pure and safe despite thousands of lawsuits to the contrary. The full Reuters report can be found here.
A Company Facing Fallout
At present, Johnson & Johnson is facing a number of lawsuits that allege the talc in the company’s baby powder products has caused ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and other related diseases. Early in 2018, a St. Louis jury ordered J&J to pay $4.9 billion to 22 women who developed ovarian cancer believed to be caused by J&J talcum powder. The manufacturer intends to appeal the verdict.
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