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Johnson & Johnson may face criminal charges for hiding asbestos

In recent years, Johnson & Johnson has faced thousands of lawsuits from people claiming that its baby powder gave them cancer. Their suits claim the baby powder held traces of carcinogenic asbestos, and jurors have already found the company responsible for more than $5 billion in damages. But the picture for J&J may soon get even worse.

As Bloomberg reports, the company may soon face criminal charges. The U.S. Justice Department is looking at whether J&J lied to the public about the safety of its talc powder. Its findings could lead to potential charges for defrauding regulators and investors.

Johnson & Johnson may have hidden information about trace asbestos

The recent revelation of the U.S. Justice Department’s involvement follows upon the release of internal memos. They suggest J&J knew for decades that its talc might hold harmful amounts of asbestos. In fact, a special report from Reuters suggests that J&J may have hidden undesirable test results from regulators.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen with proven ties to mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. If federal prosecutors press charges and a jury decides that J&J had, in fact, manipulated its asbestos test results, the company could suffer massive setbacks. Some of those may already be on the horizon, including:

  • News of the criminal investigation already led to a heavy 4.2% drop in J&J stock prices
  • The company faces more than 14,000 lawsuits from people who blame it for their cancer
  • Bloomberg estimates that the civil cases could cost the health care giant as much as $15 billion

Naturally, Johnson & Johnson disputes the allegations. The company has long held that its products have been proven safe by countless tests. Representatives say that the lawsuits, lawyers and courts have confused the public by feeding it “junk” science.

What does this mean for people suffering from mesothelioma?

It is not yet clear whether Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and other products put the public at risk of asbestos exposure. But there is no disputing the science that ties mesothelioma to asbestos exposure. This means, as Bloomberg notes, that a criminal conviction against J&J would strengthen the civil claims brought against it. For those suffering from mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, this might help them gain some long overdue justice and compensation from a company that knowingly put them at risk.

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