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Johnson&Johnson in Another Reputation Crisis Over Life-Threatening Contamination in Baby Products

If you’ve been keeping up with Johnson & Johnson, then you must know that they’re currently in crisis. On 18th October 2019, the company announced that they’d be recalling as many as 33,000 baby powder bottles in the US.

33,000 powder bottles recalled

A company never recalls their products unless something is seriously wrong, right? You might remember back in 2016 when Samsung recalled their Galaxy Note 7 devices after customers complained of overheating and exploding batteries.

Trace Amounts

This begs the question, what exactly is wrong with J&J’s baby powder? It just so happens that the product contains asbestos, albeit in trace amounts. Being a carcinogen, however, it’s content in skin products should be nil.

The country’s health regulator, the FDA, confirmed the finding, reporting that the sample used was a powder bottle randomly purchased online.

This incident is the first time in the company’s history that its baby powder has been on the spot for asbestos contamination, a carcinogen known for causing mesothelioma, a malignancy that affects mostly the lungs, but can also affect the heart and stomach.

Times have been quite tough for the healthcare conglomerate that has been in operation for over 130 years, with this asbestos fiasco being the latest blow in the myriad of woes that has been following the company. No sooner had they made the recall order than their shares started dropping, registering an overall 6% drop.

In addition to this asbestos mess, J&J is also facing lawsuits in the thousands, with complaints about their wide range of products including medical devices, opioids, baby powder, and Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug.

Risperdal is one of the J&J products giving the company a headache

Just last week, the company lost a court case wherein the jury ordered them to pay the plaintiff a sum of $8 billion. This was after they were sued for an apparent downplay of the risks Risperdal posed to the patient, and the plaintiff’s legal team provided enough evidence to convince the jury to rule in their favor. The company’s legal experts, however, vowed to challenge this decision.

Of the over 15,000 lawsuits still pending on the corridors of justice, most of them are about the company’s talc products, with consumers claiming that they are responsible for their cancers. That the FDA found traces of asbestos in the baby powder must just be what these plaintiffs needed to make their cases.

Clean Bill of Health

As you would expect, everyone at J&J claims that according to their in-house testing, the product they released to the market had a clean bill of health. This was especially echoed by DR. Susan Nicholson who heads the company’s Women’s Health department, claiming that the FDA finding was unusual and inconsistent with the results they’d found themselves.

The company insists that results from their in-house tests were okay

The company’s recall announcement affects just one lot of the powder produced in 2018, and they’ve been keen to let the public know that all other lots have been approved by the health regulator. The Food and Drug Agency has confirmed this, reporting that samples from other lots of the baby powder were found to be negative for the carcinogenic substance.

Since news of the FDA finding came to light, J&J has been conducting internal investigations on the manufacture of the specific lot, trying to find out if anything could have gone wrong.

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