Sen. Edward Markey, a member of the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate claims that consumer health care giant Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that the talc it used in some of its widely sold products like Johnson’s Baby Powder contained cancer-causing asbestos.
The call-to-action came a week after Reuters published an investigative report titled, “Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its baby powder,” and claimed “that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public.” Reuters’ investigation turned up internal documents dating back to 1957 and 1958 that raised concerns about asbestos in its talc.
The company is facing more than 11,000 lawsuits alleging its talcum powder products caused cancer, from rare and aggressive mesothelioma to ovarian cancer. Last week, a Missouri judge ruled that the company couldn’t escape a $4.69 billion verdict handed down in July by a St. Louis jury in favor of 22 women who sued the company blaming use of its talc-containing products for their ovarian cancer diagnoses.
Immediately following the Reuters report, Sen. Markey sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb requesting “full force of its regulatory and investigatory authority” in the matter to identify whether Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products have posed and continue to pose a threat to public health and safety.
“That the company may have concealed a potentially serious health and safety risk associated with the use of its baby powder is deeply troubling,” his letter stated.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the perineal use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
American Cancer Society