In January 2020, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky testified in a New Jersey court for the first time in a talc-related lawsuit. In his testimony, he told the jury that he relied upon the opinion of internal company experts when he made past public statements, saying his company’s baby powder was safe and that the talcum powder in it did not contain asbestos.

Johnson & Johnson is facing nearly 17,000 lawsuits from people who have used its talcum powder products. The lawsuits mainly involve women who faced threats of ovarian cancer over Johnson & Johnson’s alleged asbestos-tainted products.

In one of the most recent cases, a jury awarded $37.2 million in damages in October 2019 to four people in another New Jersey lawsuit, claiming the company’s baby powder and a former product, Shower-to-Shower, was the cause of their cancer, according to Bloomberg.

In Gorsky’s New Jersey testimony, he told jurors that his public statements, including those he made on national television, were not based upon his expertise or understanding of science and medicine, but rather, were based upon his reliance on company experts. Those experts were said to have led him to believe the company’s analysis showed no traces in its products of asbestos, a carcinogen known to cause ovarian cancer, as well as other types of cancer.

Gorsky also stated that he has since retracted this belief since the release of an October 2019 report by the US Food and Drug Administration that found traces of asbestos in the brand's baby powder. The company said its own subsequent tests did not show asbestos Still, Johnson & Johnson decided to conduct a recall of 33,000 bottles anyway, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In addition to the questioning about what he knew about the asbestos content, Gorsky was also said to have been questioned about the timing of his $36.8 million sales of shares of Johnson & Johnson stock in November 2018. The sale came two days after being contacted by Reuters about a forthcoming damaging special report.

According to the lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson documents show that company officials have known since the 1960s that the talcum powder mined in some locations for company products contained asbestos, but they did not warn regulators or their customers.

The trial was expected to continue until later this February, and Johnson & Johnson reportedly said it was looking forward to presenting its evidence to the court.

Also in February, the FDA held a meeting to discuss the various methods of testing talc for consumer products. FDA officials took public comments from consumer advocates, industry representatives, and testing experts. In the meeting, they recommended changing testing guidelines to include asbestos powder small enough to be inhaled into the lungs, as well as elongated mineral particles, or EMPs, according to Reuters...

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