J&J rocked by Reuters report
Fresh allegations worry Indian consumers
“When it rains, it pours”. That old adage could well apply to the adverse press reports that the New Jersey headquartered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been besieged by over the recent past. J&J which has dominated the talc market for over 100 years and which is a household name in India has been facing flack over reports of its talc containing asbestos. After several lawsuits filed by women claiming its talc caused them ovarian cancer, the world was rocked by a Reuters story published in mid December 2018 which disclosed that on their review of memos and internal documents, J&J had deliberately, and for decades, withheld the fact that their baby powder contained small amounts of asbestos, a known carcinogen. Although talc comprises only a small component of J&J’s revenues, its baby powder has helped build the image of a caring Company and the Reuters report saw its shares battered on the New York Stock exchange as investors and consumers digested the news. J&J on its part rebutted the contents of the Reuters report, which it described as “one sided, false and inflammatory” and said that its baby powder is safe and does not cause cancer and repeated tests have found it to be asbestos free. India’s drug regulator has now intervened and visited J&J’s facilities and taken samples of its talc and other products for testing. In the interim it has required the Company to stop manufacturing its baby powder using the existing raw materials. J&J, Indian consumers and competitors will await the regulators report with bated breath. .