J&J shares drop 6% following report over asbestos

Johnson & Johnson Reportedly Knew of Asbestos

Johnson & Johnson found to have concealed knowledge that its Baby Powder contained asbestos

Shares in the company plunged 12 per cent following the release of the report by news agency Reuters, wiping £37bn ($47bn) off the company's value.

We know this today in part because of Darlene Coker, who was dying of mesothelioma in 1997, had no idea why, and eventually concluded that it had something to do with the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder she'd been using her whole life.

The documents included memos and reports from within the company that were shared with the lawyers representing the plaintiffs who claimed that the powder caused cancer, according to Reuters. The cases include thousands of women with ovarian cancer.

Reuters examined internal documents, as well as trial depositions and testimony which they say prove that J&J knew the powder was sometimes tainted with "carcinogenic asbestos" from "at least 1971 to the early 2000s" and that executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers anxious about the issue and how to address it while keeping it hidden from regulators and the public.

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Most people exposed never develop cancer, but for some, even small amounts of asbestos are enough to trigger the disease later on in life.

CNN reported J&J is on track for its worst day in a decade.

However, just how small that amount is has not yet been established.

Juries in those cases awarded big sums to plaintiffs who blamed the talc products for causing their mesothelioma, a type of cancer.

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But a 2017 verdict in California, as well as other verdicts in Missouri, have been overturned on appeal, while challenges to another five verdicts are pending. The New Jersey company has battled in court against such claims and on Friday called the Reuters report, "one-sided, false and inflammatory".

Global pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its baby powder contained asbestos, Reuters said in a report on Friday. "Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory, in that it apparently has spanned over 40 years, orchestrated among generations of global regulators, the world's foremost scientists and universities, leading independent labs, and J&J employees themselves", CNBC Now reported Friday.

J&J did not immediately return a request for comment, but the company has publicly maintained there is no science to back alleged links between its powder and cancer.

Attorney Peter Bicks told Reuters in an email. In a major setback to the company, St. Louis jury in July had awarded almost $4.7 billion in total damages to 22 women and their families after they claimed asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer in the first case against the company that focused on asbestos in the powder.

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