Johnson and Johnson shares plunge after report on asbestos in baby powder

NEW YORK, US pharmaceutical and cosmetics group Johnson and Johnson saw its shares plunge Friday after a media report alleged the group had deliberately concealed for decades that its baby powder sometimes contained asbestos.

A lengthy investigation by the Reuters news agency, which reviewed

thousands of company documents, showed the company marketed talcbased

products that, at least between 1971 and the beginning in the 2000s,

sometimes contained asbestos.

The company's executives, researchers, doctors and lawyers were aware but

deliberately chose not to disclose this information and not to refer it to

the authorities, according to the report.

Johnson and Johnson strenuously rejected the claims made in the article,

calling it onesided, false and inflammatory.

Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory, the company

said in a statement. Johnson and Johnson's baby powder is safe and asbestos

free.

J and J stock closed down more than 10 percent at $133 on the New York Stock

Exchange, its worst oneday fall in 16 years.

The controversy has long dogged the company, which has been facing a wave

of several thousand court cases claiming the baby powder is causing cancer.

In July, Johnson and Johnson was ordered to pay $4.7 billion in damages to a

group of 22 women claiming to have developed ovarian cancer following the use

of the powder.

The company said Friday there were rigorous tests showing the talc did not

contain the cancercausing mineral.

In addition, J and J has cooperated fully and openly with the US FDA and other

global regulators, providing them with all the information they requested

over decades.

According to Reuters, the company also tried, unsuccessfully, to block

regulations that lower the maximum level of asbestos allowed in talcbased

cosmetics.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)