Johnson and Johnson recently began coming under fire, after claims that their baby powders may contain asbestos. The concerns are so widespread that millions of dollars may very well ride on the outcome of how a couple of questions are answered. Those questions ask if the company knew that the product was indeed contaminated with asbestos when the product was sold, and if so, how much did the product contain and was the amount enough to cause personal harm?
The investigation was initiated, by the US Securities and Exchange Commissions, after multiple questions were raised about just how safe the company’s baby powder really was. The investigation was coupled with subpoenas, both initiated after a report was released by Reuters, suggesting that Johnson and Johnson did indeed know, for many years, that their baby powder product contained small amounts of a known human carcinogen—asbestos.
One might ask oneself just how the asbestos came to be in the baby powder. The reasoning is that since the primary ingredient in baby powder is talc, and the mining of the mineral is usually done near asbestos. At this time, there have been no statements from Johnson and Johnson on how much asbestos may or may not be in their product.
On Wednesday, Johnson and Johnson did say that regulators on a federal level were asking questions about the company's baby powder products, and was filing a complaint with the US SEC (Securities and Exchanges Commission). The filing comes closely on the heels of multiple lawsuits, some of which have been decades in the making.
In July, a Missouri jury found that Johnson and Johnson were liable to 22 women, who accused the company's product of causing their ovarian cancer, leading to an award of $4.7 million. To this day, Johnson and Johnson stand fast to their claim that their product was not responsible for the women's cancer.
However, a Reuters investigation, conducted in December 2018, show through internal company documents, that from 1971 to the early 2000s, that when the raw talc was tested, there were occasional positive results for small amounts of asbestos.
Even with the release of the investigation, Johnson and Johnson still deny any asbestos presence in their baby powders. Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson and Johnson stated: "We know our talc is safe," and that the company only uses the "purest, safest, pharmaceutical-grade talc on Earth."
So, what’s the verdict—you decide.
Does the baby powder indeed contain the carcinogen asbestos? And if so, were executives at Johnson and Johnson aware of the contamination?