SALT LAKE CITY — Johnson & Johnson’s stock plummeted 11 percent today, and reports of asbestos may be to blame.
What’s happening: Johnson & Johnson knew for years that their baby powder contained traces of asbestos, according to a recent report published by Reuters.
- The report, which was published on Friday, stated that internal documents show that the talc used in the company's powder was occasionally tainted with carcinogenic asbestos.
- Reuters said the documents show that samples testing positive for asbestos tainted talc occurred from at least 1971 to the early 2000s. However, the oldest documents mentioning tainted talc date back to 1957 and 1958.
- According to NBC News, the report stated that J&J executives, mine managers, doctors and lawyers were aware of the issue. It also stated that those involved discussed the problem but the information about the asbestos was not made public, nor was it shared with distributors.
- Some 11,700 plaintiffs have come forward claiming that Johnson & Johnson’s powder products caused health issues, including their mesothelioma and ovarian cancers, per CBS News.
Johnson & Johnson has maintained that their baby powder is safe and that the tests showing a positive result for asbestos are misleading “outliers,” NBC News reported.
- The company said in a statement that the Reuters report was "one-sided, false and inflammatory."
- "Plaintiffs' attorneys out for personal financial gain are distorting historical documents and intentionally creating confusion in the courtroom and in the media," Ernie Knewitz, J&J's vice president of global media relations, told Reuters in an email. "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.
Court cases: CBS News reported that the decisions made by juries on the lawsuits have been mixed. Some have sided in favor of the company, others have sided with the plaintiffs.
- "The company has won several recent court cases alleging liability and damages, and is appealing other judgments, including $4.6 billion awarded in July to 22 women who claimed its product caused their ovarian cancer," CBS reported.
- NBC News stated that some juries have not been able to reach a verdict.