J&J stock tumbles after Reuters reports it hid asbestos in talc

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Reuters published a lengthy enquiry into one of the company's most celebrated products, that claimed as early as 1971, the New Jersey-based multinational was aware that small amounts of asbestos were present in the talc.

Reuters cited documents released as part of a lawsuit by plaintiffs claiming the product can be linked to ovarian cancer.

A case in July, in which a judge ordered the company to pay $4.69bn in damages to 22 parties, was the first to succeed with a claim that the talc caused ovarian cancer.

The report stated that Johnson & Johnson had been sued by thousands of people, including many women, who claimed the powder was unsafe to their health and that the company didn't notify consumers.

Most people exposed never develop cancer, but for some, even small amounts of asbestos are enough to trigger the disease later on in life.

But now, years later, 11,700 plaintiffs have claimed the J&J's talc caused their cancers, forcing the firm to hand over memos, internal reports and other confidential documents to their lawyers.

Thornton Law Firm LLP is investigating potential violations of the federal securities laws on behalf of purchasers of the securities of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE ticker: JNJ) regarding recent revelations that J&J knew about asbestos in its baby powder and talcum powder products dating back several decades.

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"Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory, in that it apparently has spanned over 40 years, orchestrated among generations of global regulators, the world's foremost scientists and universities, leading independent labs, and J&J employees themselves".

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.

As Reuters points out, the CEO's statement doesn't address whether the company's talc previously contained asbestos.

The Reuters report says that J&J failed to inform the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that at least three tests from three different labs carried out between 1972 and 1975 had found asbestos in the brand's iconic baby powder product.

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.

In response to the report, the company said "any suggestion that Johnson & Johnson knew or hid information about the safety of talc is false".

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