Johnson & Johnson’s stock plummeted – recordings its worst single day in 16 years, according to stock market experts — after a report accused the consumer-products company of lying for decades about trace amounts of cancer-causing asbestos in its namesake baby powder.
“J&J had evidence from lab tests dating as early as 1971 that its talcum powder contained asbestos — and lied about the fact for years as it faced lawsuit after lawsuit from sick plaintiffs, according to a report by Reuters published on Friday.
That report, which cited internal and confidential corporate documents, “also claimed New Brunswick, NJ-based J&J had commissioned and paid for studies conducted on its Baby Powder franchise and hired a ghostwriter to redraft the article that presented the findings in a journal,” according to the New York Post.
Johnson & Johnson hit back at Reuters with a statement. It reads:
“The Reuters article is one-sided, false and inflammatory. Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is safe and asbestos-free. Studies of more than 100,000 men and women show that talc does not cause cancer or asbestos-related disease. Thousands of independent tests by regulators and the world’s leading labs prove our baby powder has never contained asbestos.
“J&J attorneys provided Reuters with hundreds of documents and directly responded to dozens of questions in order to correct misinformation and falsehoods. Notwithstanding this, Reuters repeatedly refused to meet with our representatives to review the facts and refused to incorporate much of the material we provided them.
“The Reuters article is wrong in three key areas:
“The article ignores that thousands of tests by J&J, regulators, leading independent labs, and academic institutions have repeatedly shown that our talc does not contain asbestos.
“The article ignores that J&J has cooperated fully and openly with the U.S. FDA and other global regulators, providing them with all the information they requested over decades. We have also made our cosmetic talc mines and processed talc available to regulators for testing. Regulators have tested both, and they have always found our talc to be asbestos-free.
“The article ignores that J&J has always used the most advanced testing methods available to confirm that our cosmetic talc does not contain asbestos. Every method available to test J&J’s talc for asbestos has been used by J&J, regulators, or independent experts, and all of these methods have all found that our cosmetic talc is asbestos-free.”
The drop in Johnson & Johnson’s stock price following a report suggesting the company knew about asbestos in its baby powder is overdone and “excessive,” Wells Fargo told clients Friday.
“Wells Fargo, which said it still believes J&J’s stock will outperform despite the allegation, said the selling based purely on the outcomes of any talc litigation is likely overstated,” CNBC reported. “Based on prior high-profile product liability cases in drug and device sectors, we believe any potential settlement should be manageable for JNJ,” analyst Larry Biegelsen wrote Friday. “Even if all 11,700 talc cases settled for $280,000 per case (the highest per case settlement amount among the cases we’ve tracked), the total liability to JNJ would be $3.3 billion. With over $19 billion of cash and marketable securities at the end of the third quarter, we continue to see the talc litigation as manageable for the company.”
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