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Asbestos discovery leads to recall of talcum powder

The adverse effects of ingesting asbestos are so well-known that the discovery of even a small amount of the mineral has caused a large pharmaceutical manufacturer to recall thousands of containers of talcum powder.

According to a recent report, Johnson & Johnson has recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder because the Food and Drug Administration found trace amounts of asbestos in one bottle.

Johnson & Johnson has consistently denied that its products contained any asbestos, but the company is facing more than 15,000 lawsuits predicated on the allegation that its products have caused asbestos-related illnesses, such as mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. The company continues to assert that "thousands of tests over the past 40 years have confirmed that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos."

Johnson & Johnson long ago released documents showing that the company's executives knew of the health risks caused by asbestos. Moreover, the company has long known that the naturally occurring talc that the company mined was contaminated by small amounts of asbestos. Whether the relatively small amount of asbestos involved can cause serious illness remains to be proved in court. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson is battling thousands of lawsuits based on allegations that certain of its products are defective, including talc products, Risperdal, pelvic-mesh devices and opioid-related lawsuits.

Anyone who believes that they may have been exposed to a Johnson & Johnson product containing asbestos may need to arrange to have a complete physical exam. If the diagnosis is positive for mesothelioma or ovarian cancer, it may be useful to estimate the likelihood of recovering damages from the manufacturer of the drug.

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