New Report Provides More Evidence of Asbestos in Talcum Powder

New Report Provides More Evidence of Asbestos in Talcum Powder

Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products are back in the news following a Reuters report that, for decades, the company knew its talcum baby powder contained asbestos.

Reuters’ investigation, examining documents and sworn testimony, concluded that Johnson & Johnson failed to tell regulators or the public what its company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers knew, from at least from 1971 through the early 2000s, namely that the company's raw talc tested positive for small amounts of asbestos. Asbestos is an indisputable carcinogen. Even trace amounts are considered dangerous to human health. Dagger-like asbestos fibers penetrate deep into tissue and can lead to cancer of the lungs, voice box and ovaries, and to mesothelioma decades after the inciting exposure.

Johnson & Johnson has consistently maintained its talc is safe, blaming plaintiffs’ attorneys “out for personal financial gain” for its troubles. But most juries have not seen it that way.  Instead they have levied huge verdict after huge verdict for cancer victims across the country for Johnson & Johnson’s concealment of the hazard potential of its talcum powder products. While Johnson & Johnson is appealing every one of these verdicts, it has been forced to run over thousands of documents in court proceedings — some of which show that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for asbestos. The documents also reveal Johnson & Johnson’s successful efforts to thwart U.S. regulators’ plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and steer scientific research on the health effects of talc in its favor. 

Reuters’ investigative reporters found reports by a consulting lab informing Johnson & Johnson of its tainted talc as early as 1957 and 1958. Other documents revealed that, in 1976, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was weighing limits on asbestos in cosmetic talc products, Johnson & Johnson assured the government that no asbestos was “detected in any sample” of talc produced between December 1972 and October 1973. But Johnson & Johnson conveniently omitted that at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 had found asbestos in J&J talc – with levels reported as “rather high” in one case.

In 1976, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was weighing limits on asbestos in cosmetic talc products, J&J assured the regulator that no asbestos was “detected in any sample” of talc produced between December 1972 and October 1973. It didn’t tell the agency that at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 had found asbestos in its talc – in one case at levels reported as “rather high.”

While Johnson & Johnson continues to maintain that its talc is safe, one thing that remains clear is that the litigation over talc-caused cancers will not end anytime soon. Any talc testing J&J does today that shows no asbestos belies the fact that asbestos-caused cancers are latent diseases and take years and often decades to develop, so just because a particular J&J talc sample today shows an absence of asbestos contamination, does not mean that its talc has been historically safe. In fact, even a sample tested from a 1978 bottle of baby powder housed in J&J’s corporate museum tested positive for talc.

If you believe you have contracted a talc or asbestos-caused cancer, you should contact an experienced attorney right away to explore your rights.


Today's blog: The baby powder nightmare is still not over for Johnson & Johnson. Zak Zatezalo tells us on the blog today that their talcum powder products are back in the news following a Reuters report which indicates that for decades the company knew its talcum baby powder contained asbestos.