In past decades, parents in South Carolina probably did not give a second thought to using baby powder on their children or even themselves. What these consumers might not have realized at the time was that they were purchasing a potentially dangerous product. However, Johnson & Johnson -- a large manufacturer of talcum baby powder -- may have known. The company is now the subject of a criminal probe as investigators try to determine what it knew about the risk of asbestos exposure.
More than 14,000 victims are suing Johnson & Johnson, claiming that the talc used in many of its products led to cancer diagnoses. Now, the U.S. Department of Justice is trying to determine whether the company knew about the cancer risks associated with its products, and if it lied about that knowledge. In Feb. 2019, Johnson & Johnson disclosed that both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the DOJ had issued subpoenas for information regarding ongoing litigation over its baby powder products.
In Dec. 2018, a report from Reuters indicated that Johnson & Johnson may have known about the cancer-causing substance in its products. According to that report, repeated testing showed that asbestos had been found in powder and talc products between the 1970s and 2000s. Apparently, Johnson & Johnson never shared this information with regulators or consumers.
South Carolina consumers cannot make informed decisions about purchases unless they have access to information about possible risks. It is possible that many people would have purchased alternative products had they been informed of the potential risks. While it may be too late to undo the effects of asbestos exposure, a victim may be able to seek compensation for any illness that he or she developed as a result.