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Johnson & Johnson was alerted to the risk of asbestos contamination of its talc in a 1973 company report about J&J’s Windsor Materials talc mine in Vermont. The document was recently produced in a deposition of Johnson & Johnson’s chief medical officer, Joanne Waldstreicher, and reported by Bloomberg.

The 1973 report noted that J&J was working with federal officials to look for fibers that could indicate asbestos was present at the Windsor Materials talc mine.  The report goes on to discuss the significance of this:

A J&J official said in that report that the company’s baby powder “contains talc fragments classifiable as fiber. Occasionally sub-trace quantities of” two types of asbestos “are identifiable and these might be classified as asbestos fiber.’’

Concerned that asbestos may have tainted talc used in the company’s products, a J&J official suggested the company move toward using corn starch in its consumer products rather than talc, according to the report.

Another unsealed document shows that J&J pushed its Italian talc mine to stop distributing a booklet that revealed the presence of trace amounts of asbestos in the talc J&J was buying from them. The owners of the Val Chisone mine near Turin, Italy were persuaded by J&J to stop distributing the English version of the booklet so Johnson and Johnson could rewrite it. J&J’s Waldstreicher was asked about the rewritten booklet, from which all references to asbestos had been removed. She had never seen it.

Waldstreicher was also asked about whether Johnson & Johnson should have warned consumers:

“Would you agree that if asbestos is in the product, you all ought to be warning people?’’ [the plaintiff’s attorney] asked. At first, Waldstreicher responded that it was a “hypothetical question.” Eventually, she conceded.

“I would like to be warned before I were around any cancer-causing substance,’’

Johnson and Johnson has never warned consumers of any risk in using its talc powders. The unsealed documents show that instead J&J employees were trained to reassure anyone who asked about asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s powders that asbestos “has never been found and it never will’’.

More than 5,000 lawsuits are pending nationally against Johnson and Johnson for  ovarian cancer caused by talc.

If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after exposure to talc, call Thornton Law Firm’s talc lawyers at 888-491-9726 for a free case evaluation, or tell us your story here.  Contact us today for a thorough, fair consideration of your legal claim.