Johnson & Johnson shares plunge in wake of asbestos report

Michael Searles
Pharmaceutical Company Johnson & Johnson To Pay 4.6 Billion Dollars To 22 Women Over Baby Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit
Johnson and Johnson's share price dropped by more than 10 per cent on Friday after Reuters' asbestos report (Source: Getty)

Johnson & Johnson saw its share price plummeted by more than 10 per cent on Friday following a report from Reuters that claimed the US pharmaceutical company had known about asbestos tainting in its talcum powder products for decades.

The report comes as the company are facing thousands of lawsuits, which claim that their products have caused cancer.

The reaction from investors saw more than a 10 per cent drop in share price at one point, making it the biggest loser on the Dow, and it has struggled to recover.

Reuters claim that from its review of documents that J&J was aware of trace amounts of asbestos in its products dating back to 1971.

Lawyers for the pharmaceutical giant said: "Johnson & Johnson's baby powder is safe and asbestos-free.

"The Reuters article is one-sided, false and inflammatory. Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory."

Attorney Peter Bicks told Reuters in an email: "The scientific consensus is that the talc used in talc-based body powders does not cause cancer, regardless of what is in that talc.

"This is true even if - and it does not - Johnson & Johnson's cosmetic talc had ever contained minute, undetectable amounts of asbestos."

Reuters' review of the documents, which were previously kept disclosed due to a court order, revealed that the company had sometimes found small amounts of asbestos in its raw talc and finished powders between 1971 and the early 2000s.

J&J was ordered to pay £3.6bn in damages to 22 women in July, after they alleged that its talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

It was the largest payout the firm has faced over the allegations but they are appealing the decision.