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Report Shows Johnson & Johnson Knew of Asbestos in Talcum Powder Products for Years

Dec 19, 2018

The past few days have not been easy for Johnson & Johnson, the multi-national corporation known for its pharmaceutical and consumer products, and most notoriously for its Baby Powder. That’s due in large part to the release of an investigative Reuters report which revealed the company had known its talcum powder products contained trace amounts of the known carcinogen asbestos, and that the company did nothing to report it.

The revelation was a blow to Johnson & Johnson’s already rocky reputation. In addition to lawsuits filed by thousands of women who claim long-term use of J&J talc products caused their cancer, the pharmaceutical giant’s stock tanked by nearly $45 billion in a massive sell-off precipitated by the Reuters report. That plunge may only be the beginning of the company’s problems.

About the Reuters Report

The Reuters report was a product of a lengthy investigation into the ongoing litigation against Johnson & Johnson, and turned to thousands of internal company documents in search of the truth. Below, we break down some of the most important aspects of the litigation and the report.

Talcum powder cancer claims – Johnson & Johnson is currently facing lawsuits from thousands of women who claim their cancers, including mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, were caused by long-term use of the company’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower powder, and other talc-based products. It has also paid out billions in damages to multiple women and their families in claims that have already been settled or tried to verdict. Despite those cases, the company has maintained its iconic product is safe.

The investigation – Reuters examined thousands of pages of memos, internal reports, and confidential documents released by J&J in connection to pending litigation. Those records revealed some shocking findings:

  • From at least 1971 and into turn of the century, raw talc used by Johnson & Johnson and finished consumer products released to the public sometimes tested positive for asbestos.
  • For years, J&J executives, doctors, lawyers, and miners involved in the company’s talc extraction and supply chain demonstrated their knowledge and concern about the problem and how it should be addressed.
  • While debating over ways to handle the issue, J&J officials also failed to disclose those findings to federal regulators and the public.
  • Internal documents show committed and successful efforts on the part of J&J to influence regulatory plans for limiting asbestos in talc-based cosmetic products and various scientific studies about talc’s health effects.
  • Many internal tests conducted by J&J have had limitations which allowed small amounts of asbestos in raw talc and finished products to go undetected, and those tests are only used on a very small fraction of the company’s talcum powder.

The Future of Talcum Powder Cancer Litigation

The findings may prove to be a tremendous blow to Johnson & Johnson, which continues to claim its talc products are safe and is still steadfast in defending against the thousands of pending lawsuits. That’s despite a recent pair of significant jury awards for plaintiffs who blamed J&J products for their mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure, and a major verdict out of St. Louis. That jury in that case, which awarded nearly $4.7 billion to 22 plaintiffs, agreed with claims that long-term use of J&J Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products caused ovarian cancer.

Because ovarian cancer is much more common than mesothelioma, the St. Louis case has the potential to drastically expand the company’s liability. However, Johnson & Johnson has also secured a few victories of its own this year, including at least three cases where juries rejected plaintiffs’ mesothelioma claims and several mistrials. Those cases and announcements to file appeals show the company doesn’t appear ready to concede on pending claims, and instead may be gearing up for a major battle.

Fighting for Victims & Families Harmed by Talcum Powder Products

Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC is a Houston-based law firm with a national reputation. Comprised of award-winning trial attorneys with decades of collective experience, our legal team has the resources and ability to help victims and families as they seek justice and compensation in the civil justice system following serious injuries and illnesses caused by dangerous medications, defective products, and exposure to hazardous substances like asbestos. We are actively reviewing claims involving ovarian cancer suffered as a result of talc-based products.

If you have questions about a potential talcum powder cancer claim, our trusted attorneys are here to help. Call (888) 367-7160 or contact us online to learn more about your rights, options, and how our firm can guide you through the process ahead.

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