Tests of the raw talc used to manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder have periodically turned up small amount of asbestos, a known carcinogen.
The Johnson & Johnson talc tests disclosed by Reuters were conducted as early as 1971 through the 2000’s.
Although most of the talc appeared to be asbestos-free, the report noted that such tests often miss trace contaminants. Moreover, Johnson & Johnson tested just a very small fraction of the talc used in its popular body powders, including Baby Powder.
And perhaps most important, the occasional asbestos findings were a source of worry for many connected to the company, including key executives and attorneys.
Johnson & Johnson dominates the market for talc- based body powders.
According to one email obtained by Reuters, the company considers Baby Powder a “sacred cow” central to its “caring” image.
The desire to protect that image seemingly motivated company officials to deny the possibility of asbestos in Baby Powder, regardless of the risk this may have posed to public health.
A similar desire drove Johnson & Johnson to actively oppose regulatory efforts aimed at curtailing talc in cosmetic products and undermine research that examined the mineral’s possible health effects.
Johnson & Johnson has been named a defendant in more than 10,000 talcum powder lawsuits, all of which were filed on behalf of individuals who allegedly developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma due to their exposure to Baby Powder and other talc-based powders manufactured by the company.
Although Johnson & Johnson has won some recent trials, a number of plaintiffs have been awarded multi-million-dollar verdicts.
The company is appealing all of the plaintiffs’ verdicts and continues to adamantly deny that any of its talc-based powders contain asbestos or cause cancer.