Johnson & Johnson loses $39.8 billion in market value in 1 day

Johnson & Johnson Reportedly Knew of Asbestos

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

The documents revealed that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s the firm's internal tests sometimes found small amounts of asbestos in its raw talc and finished powders.

Johnson & Johnson saw its share price plummeted by more than 10 per cent on Friday following a report from Reuters that claimed the United States pharmaceutical company had known about asbestos tainting in its talcum powder products for decades.

Today, around 11,700 plaintiffs have accused the company's talc of causing their cancer, while since as early as 1972, different tests by labs had already found asbestos in the talc, information that the company hid from the FDA.

"While we expect ongoing litigation regarding the company's baby powder franchise to remain an overhang for shares both near- and long-term, we do not think the story or the risk has materially changed".

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The company in July lost a lawsuit from plaintiffs who argued that its products were linked to cases of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

Johnson and Johnson said the mesh is supported by research, but thousands of women came forward claiming they had been left with "painful and life-altering complications", the ABC reported at the time. The "amphibole" types of asbestos (crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite) are rod-like and more durable in the body.

In emailed responses, Bicks rejected Reuters' findings as "false and misleading".

So far, the company has suffered several multimillion-dollar losses in cases alleging the product causes cancer.

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J&J stock closed down more than 10 percent at $133 on the New York Stock Exchange, its worst one-day fall in 16 years. But in many instances, J&J has been able to overturn the verdicts on appeal.

The decline in shares erased about $40 billion from the company's market capitalization, with investors worrying about the impact of the report as it faces thousands of talc-related lawsuits.

In July 2018, a St. Louis jury awarded almost $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women and their families after they claimed asbestos in J&J talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer.

The Reuters report pointed out that, in an internal memo from 1976, one of the company's talc overseers also wrote that if stricter methods for testing talc became mandatory, the company would be "hard pressed in supporting purity claims". In 2006, an arm of the World Health Organisation issued a statement that talc used in the genital areas could cause ovarian cancer, but the American Cancer Society says the evidence of that claim is unclear.

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