The multinational manufacturing company Johnson & Johnson has landed itself in trouble, according to recent a recent report. It appears that the company has been producing a talcum powder, marketed as baby powder, that may have a high risk of causing cancer. To make matters worse, it appears that Johnson & Johnson officials may have been aware of baby powder’s connection to an increased cancer risk.
Department of Justice Investigation
Johnson & Johnson is based in New Jersey. The recent facts that have been discovered about the baby powder’s relationship to cancer have sparked a criminal investigation into the company by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ is also investigating whether the company has been complying with industry regulations in manufacturing its products. The allegations against the company are that thousands of people with cancer say that Johnson & Johnson talcum powder contributed to their illness. A federal grand jury has been put together to decide on charges. This is according to a report published in Bloomberg.
Johnson & Johnson has also been subject to civil lawsuits. More than 14,000 people are suing the company because of the baby powder’s link to cancer. Those people who have the terrible disease say that the product has caused things like ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is typically caused by asbestos, which makes the connection between the powder and mesothelioma all the more concerning.
Denial from the Company
Johnson & Johnson has spoken out on the issue in an effort to defend itself. A spokesperson for the company recently said that they are cooperating in full with all aspects of the DOJ’s investigation, and they are not worried about the outcome. The spokesperson also outright denied that the company’s baby powder caused cancer or contained asbestos. She cited multiple experiments and dozens of clinical trials over a period of years in support of that conclusion.
Big Payouts, Big Losses
The courts have not been so kind to the company on this topic, though. More than ten juries in recent court cases have decided that Johnson & Johnson knew that a few of its products did, in fact, contain asbestos. These products include baby powder and its Shower-to-Shower product. The juries also decided that the company did not make this information known to consumers on purpose. In total, these cases have cost the company more than $5 million in payouts to injured parties.
Since receiving these bad judgments against the Shower-to-Shower product, Johnson & Johnson actually sold the product to another company. The sale included an agreement that Johnson & Johnson could not be sued again for any asbestos related lawsuit stemming from the product. This would indicate that the company knew about the problems.
Just this past March, a jury in California awarded nearly $30 million to a woman with terminal cancer which she said stemmed from her use of Johnson & Johnson products. This coincided with the company’s worst loss of stock shares in more than a decade after more reports that the company knew about the asbestos in products it was selling to the public. The company has been steadfast in denying any knowledge.