Johnson & Johnson’s shares took a steep 10 percent plunge Friday following an explosive Reuters report accusing the pharmaceutical company of knowing for decades that its baby powder contained asbestos.
Friday’s exposé claimed Johnson & Johnson failed to inform the Food and Drug Administration after three different tests conducted by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 located asbestos in its talc. The manufacturer publicly denied this in 1999 when a woman claimed in a lawsuit that the powder caused her mesothelioma.
Johnson & Johnson’s private dealings went public months after they were ordered to pay $4.7 billion when 22 women sued them saying the powder caused their ovarian cancer. Most of the women claimed they used the powder as a deodorant and antiperspirant.
Reuters claimed that the earliest mention of compromised talc came in 1957 and 1958, when a consulting firm described contaminants from a Johnson & Johnson supplier in Italy as a fibrous, “needle-like” tremolite. The outlet noted that tremolite in its natural form is one of six minerals that are deemed asbestos.
CNN Business reported that the 10 percent dip in Johnson & Johnson stocks amounted to a $40 billion loss of its market value.
The company has since rejected claims made in the Reuters’ report, calling the story “one-sided, false, and inflammatory.” It claimed attorneys provided the news outlet with hundreds of documents contradicting the claims and accused reporters of refusing to meet with representatives on numerous occasions.
“The article ignores that J&J has cooperated fully and openly with the U.S. FDA and other global regulators, providing them with all the information they requested over decades,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. “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.”
[Featured image: Mike Mozart/Flickr]