Court Hawk
Johnson's baby powder on a store shelf
Lucas Jackson via Reuters

Johnson & Johnson Faces Countless Lawsuits Over Baby Powder

In late 2018, Reuters news agency dropped a bombshell report.

They revealed that mega-corporation Johnson & Johnson had known for decades that their baby powder products were contaminated with the potentially deadly mineral asbestos, but Johnson & Johnson did not publicly disclose that information.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, and a known carcinogen. Exposure to the substance causes several cancers and diseases, including mesothelioma. The mineral’s fibers will become forever trapped in a person’s body if they inhale or ingest asbestos dust, and there is no known way to reverse the cellular damage it causes.

Reuters Examined and Exposed Internal Documents From Johnson & Johnson

According to the Reuters story, there are thousands of pages of company memos, internal reports, and other confidential documents that Johnson & Johnson has been hiding.

Reuters examined many of the documents, and they show that from at least 1971 through the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished talcum powders sometimes tested positive for asbestos. On top of that, the company’s executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors, and lawyers decidedly hid the problem from both regulators and the public.

On top of that, Reuters’ report detailed how Johnson & Johnson successfully lobbied federal regulators not to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products, and to stifle scientific researc.

A different report from The New York Times corroborated many of the details reported by Reuters, and pointed to memos from top executives of the company showing that they were aware.

“In hundreds of pages of memos, executives worried about a potential government ban of talc, the safety of the product and a public backlash over Johnson’s Baby Powder,” The New York Times wrote.

Johnson & Johnson is Still Selling Talc-Based Products

Even still, Johnson & Johnson has gone to great lengths to deny the allegations, calling the reports an “absurd conspiracy theory.” They continue to defend their baby powder products as “safe and asbestos-free,” and the products are still being sold.

Contamination is still happening. Johnson & Johnson issued a voluntary recall in October 2019 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found trace levels of asbestos contamination in Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Johnson & Johnson faces more than 14,000 lawsuits over its talc-based baby powder products.

Other companies are being named in lawsuits, as well. Aside from Johnson & Johnson, Vanderbilt Minerals, Colgate-Palmolive, and Imerys Talc America are also being named. However, Johnson & Johnson faces the largest number of talc cancer claims.