The detailed investigatory report revealed that Johnson & Johnson, famous for its baby powder, was aware of the fact that their staple talc products were contaminated with carcinogenic substance, asbestos, but kept it from the public for decades. Talc and asbestos are scientifically known to cause ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and other talc related diseases.
An extensive investigative report reveals that Johnson & Johnson knew about the contamination of its baby powder with asbestos fibers and talc, the primary triggers for the development of ovarian, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers, for decades but neither informed the regulators nor the public.
This detailed report was published on December 14, 2018, by the Reuters News Service providing all documented proof that Johnson & Johnson knew it since the 1970s that talc contaminated with asbestos exists in their product. Also, the company allegedly neglected the health of its users by keeping it a secret for decades.
In response to this report, the investors responded negatively, and the company faced a severe financial setback with the loss of 10% stocks in the market.
Shockingly, the shares of Johnson & Johnson rose by 2% in mid-April, 2019. But the earnings per share and net earnings were dropped by 13.1% and 14.2% in comparison with the same time last year.
Last year, the share price of Johnson & Johnson was $1.60 that came down to $1.39, because of the extended and massive litigation expenses the company is facing now.
The boom of the Company and Its Products Expansion
Johnson & Johnson started its business from New Brunswick, New Jersey, more than 100 years ago in 1886 by selling sterilized equipment for medical purposes, and soon the company expanded and developed maternity kits for hygienic and safer childbirth, and first aid kits.
Their iconic and widely used product, Johnson & Johnson baby powder, was launched in 1894. And since then it has become one of the must-have a product for the parents. Later their business expanded to other countries as well.
Lawsuits Against Johnson & Johnson
With extensive research and numerous cases of cancer, experts have proven that baby powder contains carcinogens.
It did not only pose severe health problems to children but adults as well.
The report has mentioned three different lab results completed between the period of 1972 to 1975. All three show the presence of asbestos in the talc samples of Johnson & Johnson's
Talc and asbestos are mined together naturally. So, talc products are at a high risk of being contaminated with asbestos. Moreover, these minerals occur in the same geological area.
Talc Contributes to $420 Million to the Revenue of J&J
As per the data published by Johnson & Johnson in their revenue report for 2017, talc products contribute $420 million in a total of $76 billion in revenue generated by the company in 2017.
According to the recently published financial report by Johnson & Johnson's showed that the financial status of the company is still rising, amidst all the lawsuits.
Response by Johnson & Johnson's Officials
Johnson & Johnson has thoroughly denied all the claims and findings concerning the presence of any carcinogenic substance in their products.
To the investigative report published by Reuters, the vice president of the global media relations for J&J, Ernie Knewitz responded as,
"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. Any suggestion that Johnson & Johnson knew or hid information about the safety of talc is false."
Talc-Related Cancer Cases Handled Over Recently
There have been thousands (more than 13,000) of lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson over the past couple of years claiming that talc-based products of the company have caused the development of several cancers. A significant percentage of these cases involve the development of ovarian cancer, and a smaller percentage of talc cases include mesothelioma against Johnson & Johnson, which is caused by asbestos exposure. And then things get out of hand for J&J since 2017.
There are more than 6000 cases filed against J&J with the claim of ovarian cancer development. And since 2018, allegations of contamination of its products with asbestos causing mesothelioma are increasing.
There are 11 cases filed that specifically claim that the presence of asbestos in talc is the main reason for mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and other cancers that are caused by asbestos exposure. Out of these cases, three cases won by plaintiffs, three ended in favor of J&J, whereas others ended with hung juries.
Following are a few the highly publicized cases against J&J:
- (Specifically alleging contamination of asbestos in talc) In July 2018, a Missouri jury gave its verdict in favor of 22 women who claimed that the presence of asbestos in J&J's talc products caused ovarian cancer in their bodies. And J&J was ordered to pay a total of $4.69 billion to these women.
- In August 2017, a California jury ordered the company to pay $417 million to a woman who has ovarian cancer that was caused by regular use of Johnson & Johnson's talc-based baby powder.
- (Specifically alleging contamination of asbestos in talc) In March 2019, a California jury ordered J&J $29 million to a woman who claimed to have developed ovarian cancer because of asbestos in their talcum powder.
- (Specifically alleging contamination of asbestos in talc) In May 2018, a Los Angeles jury settled the case in favor of 68 years older woman suffering from mesothelioma with a $21.7 million award against J&J and the distributors. The plaintiff made the case with the reason that asbestos and talc are carcinogenic substances, and exposure to asbestos is the known leading cause of the development of mesothelioma.
A Flood of Lawsuits Against J&J is About to Rise in 2019
In several cases against Johnson & Johnson, the plaintiffs have proven in court with evidence, and research by experts about the presence of asbestos in its talcum powder products. But the Reuters report is based on authenticated scientific information, initial lab tests report from the 1970s, courtroom testimonies, and other documents. The authenticity, claims, and powerful originality of this report can stem an even bigger string of lawsuits in 2019 against Johnson & Johnson.