A federal grand jury in Washington is looking into what Johnson & Johnson officials knew about the cancer risks in the company’s Baby Powder-brand talcum powder and other products, according to a report.
The New Jersey-based company is the subject of a U.S. Department of Justice criminal investigation as well as a regulatory probe amid allegations from thousands of cancer patients that J&J products played a role in their illnesses, Bloomberg reported last week.
The company is facing more than 14,000 lawsuits alleging that J&J talc products caused people’s ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, a condition linked to asbestos, the report said.
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Meanwhile, a J&J spokeswoman told Bloomberg that the company was “fully cooperating” with the Justice investigation. She also denied that the company’s Baby Powder contains asbestos or causes cancer, and said the company’s position is “supported by decades of independent clinical evidence.”
But in recent years nearly a dozen juries have concluded that J&J knew some of its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products contained asbestos and did not make the information available to consumers, the report said. Such cases have cost J&J more than $5 billion in payouts to plaintiffs, the report said.
J&J has since sold the Shower-to-Shower brand to another company that has an agreement with J&J protecting it from any asbestos lawsuits linked to the brand, according to Bloomberg.
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In March, a jury in California awarded $29 million to a woman who claimed J&J products caused her terminal cancer.
Last December, J&J shares suffered their worst loss in 16 years after Reuters reported the company knew for decades about asbestos content in its products. The company forcefully denied the veracity of the Reuters report.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.