It was reported today that Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) stock fell today, as much as 11% (on track to be its worst day since 2002) “after a Reuters report said the company knew for decades that asbestos was in its baby powder.” 1(This plunge has caused a ripple all over Wall Street as they are among the most widely held stock and a member of the Dow.)
This is another blow to the company who has been dealing with lawsuits that claim some of its talcum powder products caused cancer.
“…the Reuters report cites documents and other evidence that indicate company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers knew about the problem and failed to disclose it to regulators or the public.
Reuters said it examined documents, including depositions and trial testimony, that show that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, J&J’s raw talc and finished baby powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, a human carcinogen that can cause cancer.
According to Reuters, the documents also depict successful efforts to influence US regulators’ plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on the health effects of talc.”2
However, I’m sure it will not surprise any of you that Johnson and Johnson called the article “one-sided, false and inflammatory,” and their baby powder, “safe and asbestos-free.”
The company insists that they have always cooperated with the FDA and that over a number of decades, using the “most advanced testing methods available”3 they have done thousands of tests showing their talc does not contain asbestos. (They said that regulators, independent labs, and academic institutions have also found the same thing- their cosmetic talc is asbestos-free.)
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