Johnson & Johnson (J&J) stated in a press release that a Reuters article claiming that the Company lied about asbestos traces in their baby powder is “one-sided, false, and inflammatory.”

According to the article, in 1976, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was weighing limits on asbestos in talc products, J&J withheld lab information that showed asbestos in its talc. While the Reuters article notes that most internal J&J talc tests did not show asbestos, the report goes on to suggest that “they [J&J] have always had limitations that allow trace contaminants to go undetected.”

The response by J&J specifically outlines 3 areas in which the Company believes the Reuters report to be incorrect:

  1. The article ignores that thousands of tests by J&J, regulators, leading independent labs, and academic institutions have repeatedly shown that our talc does not contain asbestos. 
  2. The article ignores that J&J has cooperated fully and openly with the US FDA and other global regulators, providing them with all the information they requested over decades. We have also made our cosmetic talc mines and processed talc available to regulators for testing. Regulators have tested both, and they have always found our talc to be asbestos-free.
  3. The article ignores that J&J has always used the most advanced testing methods available to confirm that our cosmetic talc does not contain asbestos. Every method available to test J&J’s talc for asbestos has been used by J&J, regulators, or independent experts, and all of these methods have all found that our cosmetic talc is asbestos-free.

Across the US, thousands of plaintiffs have claimed the Company’s talc caused their cancers (most commonly ovarian cancer or mesothelioma). Many of the cases have been rejected by judges, others have been mistrials, however earlier this year a jury in St. Louis awarded punitive damages to 22 women who claimed the powder contributed to their ovarian cancer. J&J has said it will appeal the verdict.

Responding to Reuter’s claims, J&J’s VP of global relations, Ernie Knewitz wrote, “Plaintiffs’ attorneys out for personal financial gain are distorting historical documents and intentionally creating confusion in the courtroom and in the media.”

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