Johnson & Johnson Shares Plummet After Report Of Asbestos In Baby Powder
Johnson & Johnson Shares Plummet After Report Of Asbestos In Baby Powder
J&J's shares fell nearly 8% on Friday after Reuters reported the company knew of asbestos in its talc
15 December, 2018, 07:27
Company executives, scientists, doctors and lawyers reportedly fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to the public.
Of the thousands of lawsuits, J&J has won some of the cases, CNBC noted.
"We have science that's on our side", he explained, "that is indicative that the product is safe, it's not just the scientific conclusions of Johnson & Johnson lab folks, it's the FDA, it's the National Cancer Institute".
J&J had evidence from lab tests dating as early as 1971 that its talcum powder contained asbestos - and lied about the fact for years as it faced lawsuit after lawsuit from sick plaintiffs, according to a report by Reuters published on Friday.
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.
But now, years later, 11,700 plaintiffs have claimed the J&J's talc caused their cancers, forcing the firm to hand over memos, internal reports and other confidential documents to their lawyers.
According to Reuters, the company also tried, unsuccessfully, to block regulations that lower the maximum level of asbestos allowed in talc-based cosmetics.
However, the Reuters report indicated that most testing reports did not find the presence of asbestos in J&J products.
"We believe it is highly unlikely the company's exposure to this talc issue will even come close to the $40 billion in lost market cap today", J.P. Morgan analysts said.
Susquehanna litigation analyst Tom Claps said in an email that "today's Reuters story about JNJ's talc litigation is not 'new news."' In July, a jury ordered the company to pay $4.69 billion to women who claimed asbestos in the products caused them to develop ovarian cancer. It added that "studies of more than 100,000 men and women show that talc does not cause cancer or asbestos-related disease".
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. "Thousands of independent tests by regulators and the world's leading labs prove our baby powder has never contained asbestos", the statement continued.
Meanwhile, shares in Johnson & Johnson fell more than six percent on Friday, on track to post their biggest percentage drop in more than a decade following the Reuters report.
Reuters reviewed Johnson & Johnson documents produced as part of the trials, many of which had been shielded from view by court orders.
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