The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Johnson & Johnson over concerns about possible asbestos contamination of its baby powder and other talc products, the company said. company Wednesday.
In a custody account, Johnson & Johnson stated that it "cooperated with these government investigations and would produce documents in response" to the subpoenas it had received. In a separate statement, the company said "investigations are related to reports" on the number of lawsuits filed by consumers who claim that its talc products have caused cancer.
In December, the New York Times and Reuters published internal documents that reported decades of communication within the company about the risk of asbestos in its talc-based products, even as Johnson & Johnson was fighting to keep negative information away from the public.
A few days after the reports were released, the company's stock sank by more than 12%. He had not fully recovered the losses since Wednesday.
Johnson & Johnson, which faces about 13,000 lawsuits in which its body powders are blamed causing ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, ensured the safety of its products. On Wednesday, "decades of independent testing by regulators and leading laboratories around the world prove that Johnson & Johnson's baby powder is safe and asbestos-free, and does not cause cancer."
Some of the lawsuits for talc have been tried. Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J., has prevailed in some cases and has successfully overturned verdicts in others. He appealed several judgments, including that of July in which a jury awarded $ 4.7 billion to 22 patients with ovarian cancer and their loved ones.
Last week, Imerys Talc America, one of the leading talc suppliers used by Johnson & Johnson and a defendant in some of the lawsuits, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company said that although the shares In court challenging the security of talc is "totally unfounded", it did not wish to "plead these claims in perpetuity and commit millions of dollars in legal costs to defend these cases".
Johnson & Johnson also noted in its regulatory filing that Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, had requested information on the extent of the company's knowledge of the potential for asbestos in its talc products.
The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The subpoenas were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.