Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
New Brunswick, NJ, United States (4E) – A damning investigative report by Reuters reveals that Johnson & Johnson had full knowledge about carcinogens in its baby powder since the 1970s but kept this horrific fact from the public.
The Reuters report asserts that “Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its baby powder.” Reuters discovered that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, Johnson & Johnson knew its raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.
It also found that company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers “fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.”
The documents in Reuters’ possession also depict successful efforts by Johnson & Johnson to influence U.S. regulators’ plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on the health effects of talc.
Asbestos is frequently found in underground mineral deposits near talc, which is the main ingredient in baby powder. It was a source of worry in Johnson & Johnson as early as 1957 when reports by a consulting lab uncovered asbestos-tainted talc.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Even trace amounts of asbestos are dangerous. Asbestos is also the primary cause of mesothelioma, a very deadly form of cancer.
A follow-up investigation by the New York Times found that “executives proposed new testing procedures or replacing talc outright, while trying to discredit research suggesting that the powder could be contaminated with asbestos.”
Johnson & Johnson did its utmost to keep this potentially product-killing information from the public. Its efforts to kill this news included “demand(ing) the government block unfavorable findings.” An unnamed FDA official promised Johnson & Johnson that the damning findings would only be revealed to the world “over my dead body.”
Johnson & Johnson continues to claim its baby powder has never contained asbestos. It said allegations to the contrary are rooted in “junk science.” The massive number of lawsuits Johnson & Johnson proves people aren’t buying its lies.
Johnson & Johnson has to contend with lawsuits brought against it by 11,700 plaintiffs who claim the company’s talc caused their illnesses. This number includes thousands of women with ovarian cancer.
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