There is more fallout from a recent Reuters investigation that found internal documents showed Johnson & Johnson was aware for decades that its talcum powder products contain cancer-causing asbestos but did not warn consumers of this risk.
First, a U.S. senator on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee pressed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the claims. Now drug regulators in India announced they are collecting new samples of talcum powder to determine if it is contaminated with asbestos.
In recent years, Johnson & Johnson has been trying to shield itself from a growing number of lawsuits – now nearing 12,000 – that allege its talcum powder products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder cause ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure that forms in the lining of the lungs or abdomen.
Many of the lawsuits claim the culprit is asbestos. Talc is mined from the earth in much the same fashion and in similar places as asbestos, so is very possible that talc can contain asbestos. Testing revealed during recent litigation indicates that the carcinogenic mineral was found in the talc Johnson & Johnson used in its products, that the company was aware of this, and instead of warning consumers, J&J promoted its products as safe enough for babies.
J&J released a statement calling the Reuters report incorrect, adding that several studies show that talc doesn’t cause ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. But growing evidence is beginning to take a toll on consumer confidence.
Indian regulators first collected samples of talcum powder in 2016 when concerns about the safety of talc and its association with asbestos began taking hold. Initial tests were negative, but India says it will conduct tests once again to be sure. Results are expected next week.