Johnson & Johnson, facing potential liability in the billions of dollars in claims its talcum powder causes cancer, may have known about the health risks of the product for decades, according to Reuters.
An examination of company memos, internal reports and other documents by Reuters finds that tests as far back as 1971 showed the company’s raw talc and powders occasionally tested positive for small amounts of asbestos. The documents, says Reuters, show company executives and scientists discussing how to address the issue, but not disclosing it to health officials or consumers.
The awareness could go back to 1957, as a lab report discusses a finding that’s in line with asbestos.
J&J, in public statements, maintains that talc, which is often found in deposits alongside asbestos ore, is safe for consumers and did not comment on Reuters’ findings.
J&J, earlier this year, was hit with a $4.69 billion verdict over accusations its baby powder and other products with talc cause cancer.
While the company appeals the verdict, there are another 9,000 or so similar cases pending against the company.
The previous record for damages against J&J was for $417 million, in August of 2017. However, that case and a $72 million award in a separate outcome were both overturned on the basis of insufficient evidence and claims of jury misconduct in setting damages.