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Johnson & Johnson knew about asbestos in its baby powder for decades, report

Johnson & Johnson knew about asbestos in its baby powder for decades, report

Per Reuters, around 11,700 plaintiffs are claiming that Johnson & Johnson's talc caused their cancers, including thousands of women with ovarian cancer, and some juries are starting to find in their favor.

On Friday, as news of the investigation spread, Shares of Johnson & Johnson fell by more than six per cent, on track to post their biggest percentage drop in more than a decade.

The Reuters report and the documents it refers to are available online here.

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. While contributing a relatively small portion to overall revenue, Johnson's Baby Powder is seen as a major component of J&J's image as a caring company - a "sacred cow", as one 2003 internal email cited by Reuters put it. Reuters-along with attorneys for more than 11,000 plaintiffs now suing Johnson & Johnson, claiming the company's products caused their cancer-examined memos, internal reports, and other confidential documents as well as deposition and trial testimony.

The company's raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos from at least 1971 until the early 2000s, Reuters claims.

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J&J were sued in 1999 by Darlene Coker, who believed that her terminal mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, was caused by using 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.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company has dominated the talc powder market for more than a century, with its talc products adding $420 million to the company's $76.5 billion in sales in 2017.

Evidence the company knew about the link came to light after people who suspected that talc caused their cancers hired lawyers who were experienced in litigation involving workers exposed to asbestos.

According to Reuters, the documents also depict successful efforts to influence United States regulators' plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on the health effects of talc. The company said that it has fully cooperated with the Food & Drug Administration and other global regulators over decades, and used the "most advanced testing methods available" to ensure that its cosmetic talc is asbestos-free.