Toxic Baby Powder

by Vicky Stern

J&J Hid Knowledge of Tainted Baby Powder.

Darlene Coker wanted to understand why she was dying of cancer. Coker, along with her personal injury lawyer, suspected Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder was to blame.

Two decades ago, Coker sued the company, alleging that the talc powder she’d used on herself and her babies was tainted with asbestos, a known carcinogen. But, throughout the lawsuit, J&J denied the allegations. The company was not compelled to disclose internal documents and, without sufficient proof to back her claim, Coker had to abandon the suit.

Now, two decades later, J&J’s baby powder has come under renewed scrutiny. Internal documents from J&J, obtained by Reuters, tell a different story about the product’s safety — showing that, although most test reports did not find asbestos, “the company’s powder was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public.”

The first mention of needle-like contaminants occurred as early as 1957, and a J&J scientist’s lab notes from 1972 cites “incontrovertible asbestos.” Now, 11,700 plaintiffs are claiming the company’s talc caused their cancers.

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