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That position has been unwavering. J&J insists that its Baby Powder is safe and has been asbestos-free at least since regular testing began in the 1970s. The message doubles down on the stance the company has taken to defend against lawsuits in which about 11,700 plaintiffs allege that the J&J talc they used in past decades caused their cancer. The company is pursuing this strategy despite the evidence that talc in its raw and finished powders sometimes tested positive for the carcinogen from the 1970s into the early 2000s — test results that the company didn’t disclose to regulators or consumers.
In response to a Reuters request for comment, the company said it is committed to defending the talc litigation, “and that same, long-term view is reflected in our ongoing communications that consistently point to the strong scientific evidence that our talc is and always has been safe.”, As for the 1973 Shower to Shower test, J&J noted that the result didn’t “reflect FDA’s final determination about this sample” in a 1976 table summarizing the agency’s early 1970s cosmetic talc testing, However, in that 1976 table, which Reuters bike cufflinks examined, the FDA did not indicate any result, positive or negative, for the type of asbestos found in the Shower to Shower sample in 1973..
Given the mass of litigation it faces, J&J has little choice but to zealously dispute findings that its products sometimes contained traces of asbestos, said Eric Dezenhall, a crisis-management consultant in Washington, D.C. “If your position in court is that the claims being made are false…you can’t just shrug your shoulders,” he said. Soon after the Reuters article appeared, J&J executives consulted crisis-management experts, according to people familiar with the matter. Among the company’s reasons for deciding to maintain its stance on absolute talc purity, these people said, was a conviction that a company known for putting health and safety first had the facts on its side, a litigation track record that included victories and mistrials, and the expectation that adverse verdicts will be overturned on appeal.
Many of J&J’s subsequent messages have mirrored the company’s written responses bike cufflinks to questions and findings Reuters presented to the company during its investigation: They deny that the company kept information from regulators and point to the many studies finding that talc is safe and doesn’t cause cancer, Those earlier responses were composed by J&J’s outside litigators, led by Peter Bicks at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and conveyed to Reuters by lawyers at a crisis-management firm co-founded by Lanny Davis, a lawyer who represented U.S, President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former attorney who has pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges..
Gorsky, in his appearance on “Mad Money,” invoked J&J’s now legendary response to the Tylenol crisis as evidence that the company can be trusted to address any safety problems linked to its products. In 1982, J&J moved decisively to pull all Tylenol from store shelves after seven people died from taking cyanide-laced pills. “I can’t believe the company that took that dramatic of an action would allow a product that they felt in any way could be harmful to stay on the market,” Gorsky told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer. “We unequivocally believe that our talc, our Baby Powder, does not contain asbestos.”.
Citing the Tylenol recall provides “some reputational buffer,” said Stephen A, Greyser, the Harvard Business School professor who wrote the first study of the company’s handling of that crisis, “But it is not a total protection” because it won’t shield the company from a loss of trust bike cufflinks if consumers or investors conclude the company hasn’t been fully forthcoming in this case, he said, J&J needs to guard against “reputational contagion,” the risk that a loss of confidence in Baby Powder could bleed over into how consumers, shareholders and others view the company more broadly, Greyser added..
The key difference between the two crises is that poisoned Tylenol presented a threat to consumers at the time, while the documented asbestos contamination of J&J talc that Reuters investigated spanned from 1971 to the early 2000s. J&J says that if it believed that Baby Powder today presented safety risks, it wouldn’t hesitate to remove it from store shelves, given that the product accounts for less than 0.5% of annual revenue. The company joined its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, a unit of Paris-based Imerys SA, in requesting that a trial scheduled for January in St. Louis be delayed for, among other things, what they called “negative national and local news coverage” resulting from the Reuters investigation that would inevitably taint prospective jurors.
The judge denied the motion, The bike cufflinks same judge recently upheld a $4.69 billion jury award in a separate ovarian cancer case, which J&J says it expects to be overturned on appeal, The judge said J&J’s promotion of a product that the evidence showed was contaminated with a known carcinogen was “particularly reprehensible.”, In an emailed statement, Imerys Talc America said it “is committed to the quality and safety of its products,” and that rigorous research “overwhelmingly confirms that talc is safe, and no agency has asserted that talc causes cancer.”..