J&J shares drop on report it knew of asbestos in baby powder

Adjust Comment Print

Johnson & Johnson says it will appeal the recent verdicts against it with lawyers telling Reuters: "Johnson & Johnson's baby powder is safe and asbestos-free".

Johnson & Johnson has denied the claims in the Reuters report, branding it "an absurd conspiracy theory".

Johnson & Johnson sank 8% on Friday after Reuters reported the company knew for decades that its baby powder contained asbestos.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson tumbled 12 per cent on Friday and were on track to post their biggest percentage drop in more than 16 years, after Reuters reported that the pharma major knew for decades that cancer-causing asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder.

"This is all a calculated attempt to distract from the fact that thousands of independent tests prove our talc does not contain asbestos or cause cancer", he told the news service.

More news: Trump turns his ire toward Michael Flynn

The documents Reuters got ahold of showed that scientists working at Johnson & Johnson or with outside labs found that there was sometimes a small amount of asbestos or used language typically used to explain the contaminant.

According to Reuters, which said it examined company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents from lawyers for some of the 11,700 plaintiffs claiming the baby powder caused their cancer, from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company's "raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos".

But J&J's FDA submission left out University of Minnesota professor Thomas E. Hutchinson's finding of chrysotile in a Shower to Shower sample - "incontrovertible asbestos", as he described it in a lab note.

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.

He dismissed tests cited in this article as "outlier" results.

More news: Brinks truck incident causes mad dash for cash on highway

Their lawyer Mark Lanier called for the company to pull its talc products from the market "before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a bad disease".

In July 2018, a St. Louis jury awarded almost $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women and their families after they claimed asbestos in J&J talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer.

The Reuters investigation comes in the backdrop of the multiple lawsuits that the company is now facing - where more than 9,000 plaintiffs have alleged that its talc baby powder products contain asbestos and caused ovarian and other cancers. The jury awarded them $4.69 billion in damages.

'Johnson & Johnson is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process, ' they said in a statement.

Reuters said that J&J turned down repeated requests for an interview for more than two months.

More news: The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is available today for $699

But assertions that the talc contained asbestos - and the science showing it causes mesothelioma and is also associated with ovarian and other cancers - has had mixed success in court.