Criminal Probe into J&J’s Marketing of Talc Products Containing Asbestos: What Has the Government Found?

Lawmakers are asking pointed questions about the status of a criminal investigation into talcum powder manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, launched by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2019. The probe was centered on the healthcare giant’s marketing of its signature Baby Powder and other asbestos-containing talcum powder products, but three years into the probe, there has been no update from the Justice Department. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson faces tens of thousands of lawsuits filed by consumers who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, or other types of cancer after routinely using Johnson’s talcum powder products. If you or someone you love has suffered adverse health effects allegedly as a result of J&J’s marketing of its talcum powder products that contained asbestos, a known carcinogen, contact Consumer Safety Watch as soon as possible. The talcum powder litigation is expected to continue to grow, and there is still time to file a claim for compensation. 

What is the Status of the Talcum Powder Investigation? 

Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder has been a household staple for generations of American families who routinely used the powder to prevent diaper rash, to absorb moisture and cut down on friction, and for feminine hygiene purposes as well. In recent years, however, the company has been plagued by claims that its once-trusted talcum powder products cause cancer. The Justice Department launched the investigation into Johnson & Johnson and its talcum powder marketing practices in 2019, after reviewing internal documents indicating that testing had identified asbestos in the company’s talc supply on at least three occasions between 1972 and 1975. Despite these alarming findings, J&J continued marketing and selling its talcum powder products for decades, with no warnings about the potential for asbestos exposure. 

Seeking an update on the criminal probe into whether Johnson & Johnson marketed its talcum powder products knowing that they contained or could possibly contain cancer-causing asbestos, U.S. Representatives Rosa L. DeLauro and Steve Cohen recently wrote letters to the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking to be apprised of the status of the investigation and the grand jury that was convened in Washington, D.C. “It is extremely important if this grand jury remains active that other governmental branches and agencies be apprised so they will know that J&J’s reprehensible conduct is receiving the scrutiny it deserves,” DeLauro wrote in her letter. “[T]here are tens of thousands of victims who deserve to know their pursuit of justice remains a possibility.”

Talcum Powder Lawsuits Filed Over Ovarian Cancer, Mesothelioma

Already, more than 38,000 claims have been filed in federal court by former talcum powder users who have been diagnosed with serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses like ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, and this number likely represents only a small portion of the talc-related cancer cases that have arisen since Johnson’s talcum powder was introduced in 1894, more than a century ago. Most of the talcum powder lawsuits currently pending center on claims that Johnson’s talc-based products contained asbestos, which is known to cause cancer. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and carcinogen and its use has been heavily restricted in the U.S. since the 1970s due to concerns about adverse health effects from asbestos exposure. However, because asbestos and talc often occur near each other in the earth, raw talc mined for use in consumer products may contain harmful asbestos fibers, as may finished talc-based powders. 

J&J to Remove Talc-Based Powder from Global Market

After denying for years that its talc products contained asbestos, Johnson & Johnson was forced to recall 33,000 bottles of Baby Powder in October 2019, after an FDA test found a small amount of chrysotile asbestos in a bottle purchased from an online retailer. The following year, the company announced that it would no longer sell its talc-based powder products in the United States and Canada, citing “changes in consumer habits and [fueled by] misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.” Just last month, the company made the long-awaited decision to halt the manufacture and sale of talcum powder globally after this year. 

Contact Consumer Safety Watch to Discuss Your Options

Juries in courts across the country have awarded billions in damages to plaintiffs in talcum powder lawsuits, finding that Johnson & Johnson withheld from consumers crucial information about the potential risk of cancer from talcum powder. These claims are based in large part on internal documents uncovered during the talcum powder litigation, which suggest that the company knew that its talc products sometimes contained asbestos and did nothing to warn users or notify federal regulators. To learn more about the massive talcum powder cancer litigation, or to find out if you may qualify for a legal claim for an ovarian cancer or mesothelioma diagnosis, contact Consumer Safety Watch today.

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