FDA Finds Asbestos in J&J Baby Powder

  • © GVictoria/Shutterstock © GVictoria/Shutterstock

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has voluntarily recalled 33,000 bottles of its iconic baby powder in the US, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found traces of asbestos in one batch.

J&J said it had ordered consumers to stop using products from the affected batch immediately, adding that it had launched a review that could take 30 days or more.

The largest US healthcare company is facing at least 15,000 lawsuits from long-time users of its talc products, who blame it for their cancer. J&J’s share price fell 6% following the news on Oct. 18, which reports said made it the day’s second worst-performing US stock.

In cases heard by US courts to date, some women have alleged that their ovarian cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos through J&J’s baby powder. Other lawsuits pointed to cases of mesothelioma and lung cancer. The company has denied any connection.

Up to now, it has insisted that none of the powder sold contained asbestos, despite scientific reports suggesting such contamination was possible. An investigative report by the Reuters news agency in December 2018 claimed the company had known about an asbestos problem for decades.

In a statement released just before the weekend, J&J reiterated its earlier stance that it has a rigorous testing standard in place to ensure its cosmetic talc is safe.  Years of testing, including the FDA's own probes – as recently as last month — had found no asbestos, it noted.

Johnson’s baby powder is not the only one of the company’s products to make negative headlines recently. The company is also currently embroiled in litigation over opioids and medical devices.

On a positive note for J&J, however a Missouri appeals court overturned a $110 million verdict against it. The lawsuit brought by a Virginia woman in 2017 charged that she developed ovarian cancer after decades of using the company’s talc-based products for feminine hygiene. The 2017 judgment was thrown out as the court said it violated a Missouri supreme court ruling that limits out-of-state plaintiffs’ ability to sue within the state.

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