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J&J Recalls Baby Powder Due to Asbestos Concerns

By Jason Bottlinger on November 7, 2019

After years of asserting that their iconic baby powder was safe to use and had no harmful side effects, Johnson & Johnson has recalled 33,000 bottles of its baby powder after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered evidence of asbestos in the product.

This is the first time Johnson & Johnson has voluntarily pulled baby powder from store shelves over concerns of the product containing asbestos. This is bad timing for the multinational corporation, and could undercut its defense against the flood of accusations that its talc-based products can cause cancer.

The company, which reported nearly $82 billion in sales last year and produces popular brands like Tylenol, Band-Aid, and Rogaine, is already engaged in various legal battles: Johnson & Johnson currently faces more than 100,000 lawsuits over the safety of its products. Over 15,000 of those suits are from individuals who claim J&J’s baby powder and other talc-based products caused them to develop cancer. Plaintiffs claim to have developed mesothelioma, a pugnacious form of cancer that is commonly associated with asbestos exposure, while others have developed ovarian cancer.

The Recall

The recall was prompted after the FDA found trace levels of chrysotile asbestos in samples from a bottle of baby powder that was purchased from an online seller. J&J stated that they were informed of the results and recalled bottles in question out of an “abundance of caution.” The FDA has advised consumers with baby powder from lot number 22318RB to stop using it at once.

The decision to pull the baby powder, sourced from China and distributed last year, is a massive blow for a company that is so heavily reliant on consumer confidence. However, Johnson & Johnson has reiterated its long-touted defense against cancer assertions, claiming “thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos.”

J&J also attempted to throw the testing process into question, saying in a statement that it is working alongside the FDA to “determine the integrity of the tested sample and the validity of the test results.”

Responding to these assertions, spokeswoman Gloria Sánchez-Contreras stated, “The FDA stands by the quality of its testing and results.”

What Now?

It is estimated that lawsuits over baby powder could cost Johnson & Johnson $5 to $10 billion. The recall could act as evidence in this litigation and lead to the company having to pay more in damages. Shares of the company dropped more than 6% following the public announcement of the recall.

Plaintiffs in the baby powder cases have accused Johnson & Johnson of failing to provide consumers with appropriate warning of the risks of asbestos contamination and other dangers, despite being aware of concerns for multiple decades. A New York Times investigation last year discovered internal J&J memos and reports, made public during a legal dispute, that document concern held by company executives about potential asbestos contamination that date back to 50 years ago.

Did a Johnson & Johnson Product Make You Ill? Contact an Attorney

Despite Johnson & Johnson’s assertion that its products are harmless, mounting evidence and product recalls suggest otherwise. If you have been using J&J talc-based products for years and suffered health problems, it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney who understands product liability laws as soon as you can. Bottlinger Law L.L.C. is dedicated to helping all victims of dangerous or defective products receive the compensation they are justly owed. Contact us at (402) 505-8234 for a free consultation.

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