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Johnson & Johnson’s Stock Falls After Reports Of Presence of Asbestos

The controversy has long dogged the company, which has been battling more than 10,000 cases claiming its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products cause ovarian cancer.

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Johnson & Johnson, asbestos
Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York, Oct. 15, 2015. VOA

Johnson & Johnson saw its stocks suffer their biggest drop in 16 years, following a media report that alleged the company concealed for decades that trace amounts of asbestos was in its baby powder.

Shares of the U.S. pharmaceutical and cosmetics group fell 9 percent Friday, wiping out tens of billions of dollars from the company’s market capitalization.

Linked to ovarian cancer

The report Friday, by Reuters news service, cited documents released as part of a lawsuit by plaintiffs claiming that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder can be linked to ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer, asbestos
The study found that genes on the X-chromosome get potentially passed down through the father to his daughter, thus increasing the risk of ovarian cancer in girls. Wikimedia Commons

It said that the company’s executives knew the baby powder contained trace amounts of asbestos, from as early as 1971, but deliberately chose not to make the information public.

The Reuters report also alleged that Johnson & Johnson tried, unsuccessfully, to stop regulators from lowering the maximum level of asbestos allowed in talc-based cosmetics.

Report is strongly denied

Johnson & Johnson strongly denied the report Friday, calling it “one-sided, false and inflammatory.”

asbestos
Toribio Jimenez lies on his bed in his basement bedroom of the home where he and 10 other people live in Nashville, Tenn, Sept. 3, 2009. Jimenez was given a job removing asbestos in the U.S. through the H2-B nonagricultural guest worker program. The job was not the job that was promised to him through the program, and after being fired, Jimenez said he now has no option but to work illegally so he can pay back the money he borrowed to make the trip to the U.S. VOA

“Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory,” the company said in a statement. “Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is safe and asbestos-free.”

The controversy has long dogged the company, which has been battling more than 10,000 cases claiming its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products cause ovarian cancer.

Also Read: Prenatal Interaction With Baby Important For Development

Investors worry the lawsuits will cost the company billions of dollars in damages and loss of future sales of Johnson & Johnson products. (VOA)

Next Story

Experts say, Long-Term Exposure to Asbestos can Trigger Lung Cancer

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have the potential to cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health groups

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Cancer
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have the potential to cause Cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health groups. Pixabay

After the US health regulators found traces of asbestos in samples from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder and forced the company to recall 33,000 bottles of talcum powder, physicians in India have warned that long-term exposure of asbestos can trigger lung cancer in children.

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have the potential to cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health groups.

According to media reports, customers should stop using powder from the affected J&J batch ‘immediately’.

In its defence, the 133-year-old J&J said it had launched a review and prior tests have not found asbestos.

The firm is facing thousands of lawsuits from people who claim its talc products caused cancer, which J&J has strongly denied, said media reports.

“The only protection we have against asbestos is knowledge, vigilance and care for our children. If the lungs of children are pre-mature then they are more prone to get affected by asbestos,” Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant Respiratory Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.

“Children, who have accidentally inhaled asbestos, might see the effect after many years. Some can even develop lung cancer. In the advanced stage, one can also suffer from peritoneal mesothelioma,” Chawla explained.

Cancer
Children, who have accidentally inhaled asbestos, might see the effect after many years. Some can even develop lung Cancer. Pixabay

The USFDA has been testing dozens of products for asbestos, a known carcinogen amid rising public concern.

In an earlier statement, J&J said that out of an abundance of caution, “it is initiating a voluntary recall in the United States of a single lot of its Johnson’s Baby Powder in response to a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test indicating the presence of sub-trace levels of chrysotile asbestos contamination (no greater than 0.00002%) in samples from a single bottle purchased from an online retailer”.

“Despite the low levels reported and in full cooperation and collaboration with the FDA, JJCI is initiating this voluntary recall of Lot #22318RB of Johnson’s Baby Powder, from which the tested sample was taken,” the company added.

According to Anubhava Patel, Consultant Neonatology and Paediatric at Motherhood Hospital in Noida, asbestos can cause restrictive lung disease and severe respiratory insufficiency.

“Long term inhalation can cause lung cancer (mesothelioma). It’s an occupational health hazard. These days asbestos is found in talcum powder and it is harmful to the kids,” Patel told IANS.

According to a case study on 33 patients, published recently in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, exposure to asbestos-tainted talcum powder may cause malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer that affects tissues lining internal organs.

Cancer
Exposure to asbestos-tainted talcum powder may cause malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly Cancer that affects tissues lining internal organs. Pixabay

“Exposure to asbestos-contaminated talcum powders can cause mesothelioma. Clinicians should elicit a history of talcum powder usage in all patients presenting with mesothelioma,” the study noted.

“Mesothelioma is considerably a new condition for India, with the first case being reported in 2015. Much of India’s asbestos-related health is primarily occupational and second-hand exposure,” said Manish Mannan, Pediatrics, Paras Hospital in Gurugram.

He added that kids who work with the material in factories are often the victims of diseases derived from asbestos exposure.

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“Patients may not develop symptoms of mesothelioma as these symptoms are typically only discovered in the later stages of the disease. Treatment involved either some form of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy,” Mannan added. (IANS)