J&J knew asbestos contaminated baby powder for decades, investigation finds

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was aware small amounts of cancer-causing asbestos lurked in its baby powder from as early as 1971, but hid that information from regulators and the public, according to a Reuters investigation.  

Reuters examined company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents and found J&J commissioned and paid for studies conducted on its baby powder franchise. The company hired a ghostwriter to rewrite the article that presented the findings in a journal, according to the investigation.

The company has been fighting thousands of lawsuits claiming its baby powder and Shower to Shower products cause ovarian cancer. The products have also been associated with mesothelioma.

J&J said it will appeal the recent verdicts against it and has maintained in public statements its products are safe.

"Plaintiffs' attorneys out for personal financial gain are distorting historical documents and intentionally creating confusion in the courtroom and in the media," a J&J spokesperson wrote in response to Reuters' findings. "This is all a calculated attempt to distract from the fact that thousands of independent tests prove our talc does not contain asbestos or cause cancer. Any suggestion that Johnson & Johnson knew or hid information about the safety of talc is false."

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