(Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday it has received subpoenas from the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) related to litigation involving alleged asbestos contamination in its signature Baby Powder product line.
The company said it intends to “cooperate fully with these inquiries and will continue to defend the Company in the talc-related litigation.”
The disclosure in Johnson & Johnson’s annual report on Wednesday is the first time that the company disclosed it had received subpoenas from federal agencies regarding its talc powder products.
The Justice Department declined to comment and the SEC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A Reuters report on Dec. 14 revealed that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that small amounts of asbestos, a known carcinogen, had been occasionally found in its talc and powder products, according to tests from the 1970s to the early 2000s - information it did not disclose to regulators or the public.
India’s drugs regulator has ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to halt production of baby powder using raw materials in two of its Indian factories until test results prove they are free of asbestos.
Johnson & Johnson lost its motion on Wednesday to reverse a jury verdict that awarded $4.69 billion to women who blamed their ovarian cancer on asbestos in the company’s baby powder and other talc products.
A jury in the US state of Missouri has awarded $4.7 billion in total damages to 22 women and their families after they claimed asbestos in Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer. The jury has initially awarded $550 million in compensation and added $4.1 billion in punitive damages.
Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in its iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. The lawsuit was brought by a California woman, Eva Echeverria, who alleged Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers about the potential cancer risks of talcum powder.
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