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J&J CEO responds to asbestos report

J&JJohnson & Johnson (J&J) has moved to reassure consumers that its baby powder is safe to use following a Reuters report that claimed the consumer goods giant knew about asbestos in the product for decades.

The company responded with full-page newspaper ads defending its product and practices, online videos, television interviews and a webpage dedicated to facts about talc.

The response may have reassured some investors as shares rose 1.0 per cent on Tuesday after a nearly 13 per cent drop over two days following the release of the report.

In a video released on the company’s social media pages, J&J chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky claimed the product is safe and always has been.

“We know that our talc is safe. In fact, for over 100 years J&J has known that the talc in our baby powder is the purest, safest pharmaceutical grade talc on earth,” Gorsky said.

“If we believed our products were unsafe, they would be off the shelves and out of the market immediately.”

“Since tests for asbestos in talc were first developed, J&J’s Baby Powder has never contained asbestos,” Gorsky said. He added that regulators “have always found our talc to be asbestos-free.”

Reuters‘ report found that while most tests in past decades found no asbestos in J&J talc and talc products, tests on its baby powder conducted by scientists at Mount Sinai Medical Center in 1971 and Rutgers University in 1991, as well as by labs for plaintiffs in cancer lawsuits, found small amounts of asbestos.

Other tests by J&J’s own contract labs and others found small amounts of asbestos in talc from mines that supplied the mineral for its baby powder and other cosmetic products into the early 2000s.

A Reuters spokeswoman on Monday said the agency “stands by its reporting.”

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