On December 14, 2018, the New York Times reported that a Johnson & Johnson executive allegedly sent around a memo voicing concerns about baby powder contamination in 1971, but the company continued to downplay concerns about asbestos in its talcum powder for more than four decades. On October 18, 2019, the Times reported that Johnson & Johnson was forced to recall 33,000 bottles of baby powder after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it had discovered asbestos in a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder.
As Reuters noted, the FDA revelation came less than two weeks after Johnson & Johnson Chief Executive Alex Gorsky testified in an October 3 deposition that involved a retired Indiana college professor claiming his cancer was caused by the baby powder he used for several years. “We unequivocally believe that our talc and our baby powder does not contain asbestos,” Gorsky testified.
The Times reported that Johnson & Johnson officials emphasized that the level of asbestos detected was very low, only a fraction of 1 percent of the sample, but the United States health agencies said there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos. David Noll, a law professor at Rutgers University, told the Times, “I can’t imagine an attorney for Johnson & Johnson standing up in front of a jury now and saying with a straight face that the product is safe.”
Reuters noted that Johnson & Johnson is now facing legal action by over 15,000 consumers in states across the nation. Johnson & Johnson shares fell nearly 6 percent after the recall was announced, and the company is now subject to inquiries that include a criminal grand jury investigation into how forthright Johnson & Johnson was about the safety of its products.
Johnson & Johnson told Reuters that the FDA notified it on September 20, 2019, that a test of its baby powder did not find any asbestos and the regulator also did not detect asbestos during testing in 2010 that used the “most sophisticated testing techniques available.”
Reuters noted that its 2018 investigation found that internal company records, trial testimony, and other evidence showed that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, but those within the company expressed concerns about the problem and how to address it without disclosing revelations to regulators or the public.
Johnson & Johnson claimed its recall was “out of an abundance of caution.” Some have estimated that the lawsuits against the company could end up costing as much as $10 billion.
Contact a Dangerous Products Lawyer in New York
Did you or a loved one develop asbestosis, mesothelioma, or another related disease due to the use of a Johnson & Johnson talcum powder product? If so, the company might owe you compensation. The New York dangerous products lawyers of Finz & Finz, P.C., have the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to help you recover compensation from giant corporations like Johnson & Johnson, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help at 1-855-TOP-FIRM right away.