J&J shares nosedive on report it knew of asbestos in Baby Powder

The decline in shares wiped off about $24bn from the company's market capitalisation

The decline in shares wiped off about $24bn from the company's market capitalisation

"And while talc products contributed just $420 million to J&J's $76.5 billion in revenue past year, Baby Powder is considered an essential facet of the healthcare-products maker's carefully tended image as a caring company-a 'sacred cow, ' as one 2003 internal email put it".

Johnson & Johnson has denied the claims in the Reuters report, branding it "an absurd conspiracy theory".

Mr Bicks said the tests cited by Reuters article were "outlier" results. The cases include thousands of women with ovarian cancer.

J&J stock plunged 8 percent to $136.10 after Reuters reported that the company knew about asbestos in its products since the 1970s.

A few years later, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considered putting limits on asbestos in cosmetic talc products, according to the publication J&J assured them that no asbestos had been "detected in any" talc sample produced between December 1972 and October 1973, although at least three tests had produced contrary findings.

The World Health Organisation now recognises no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

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Evidence the company knew about the link came to light after people who suspected that talc caused their cancers hired lawyers who were experienced in litigation involving workers exposed to asbestos.

After releasing a statement in 1971 that claimed the company had never found any asbestos in their products, a Mount Sinai researcher wrote the company a letter, explaining that a "relatively small" amount of asbestos had been detected in its baby powder, according to Reuters. The company has won several recent court cases allaging liability and damages, and is appealing other judgments, including $4.6 billion awarded in July to 22 women who claimed its product caused their ovarian cancer.

Reuters published an emailed statement from J&J Vice President of Global Media Relations Ernie Knewitz said: "This is all a calculated attempt to distract from the fact that thousands of independent tests prove our talc does not contain asbestos or cause cancer".

Their lawyer Mark Lanier called for the company to pull its talc products from the market "before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a bad disease".

It added: "Johnson & Johnson will continue to defend the safety of our product".

The company said Friday there were rigorous tests showing the talc did not contain the cancer-causing mineral. The FDA's own examinations also found no asbestos in powder samples in the 1970s, but Reuters says those tests did not use "the most sensitive detection methods".

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