Johnson & Johnson stock tanks amid report company knew since ‘70s its baby powder contained asbestos

Credit: Justin Sullivan

Credit: Justin Sullivan

Johnson & Johnson has promoted its baby powder as a safe and gentle product for use on babies and adults even as the company knew for decades that the product contains carcinogens, according to an investigation by Reuters.

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Company reports, internal memos as well as trial and deposition documents indicate that at least from 1971 to the early 2000s, Johnson & Johnson's raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, Reuters reported.

The documents were released as part of a lawsuit by plaintiffs claiming the product can be linked to ovarian cancer. Some documents indicate consulting labs found asbestos in the company’s talc as early as 1957 and 1958.

The scathing report drove stock in the company to fall more than 9 percent Friday, its worst sell-off in 16 years, the Associated Press reported.

Johnson & Johnson called the report "one-sided, false and inflammatory."

"Studies of more than 100,000 men and women show that talc does not cause cancer or asbestos-related disease," the company said in a statement. "Thousands of independent tests by regulators and the world's leading labs prove our baby powder has never contained asbestos."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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