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Johnson & Johnson subpoenaed over claims baby powder contains asbestos

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Johnson & Johnson subpoenaed over claims baby powder contains asbestos
Johnson & Johnson received subpoenas from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission as the government investigates claims the company's baby powder contained asbestos. File Photo by Dan Peled/EPA-EFE

Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Johnson & Johnson received subpoenas from the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission over accusations that its baby powder contains the deadly carcinogen asbestos.

The company faces accusations from the federal government, Congress and consumers that the talc in the company's baby powder contained asbestos that causes mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and other diseases.

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The company will comply with the subpoenas, disclosed Wednesday, and a request from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to produce documents regarding claims of asbestos in talcum powder products.

Johnson & Johnson plans to defend itself against thousands of lawsuits from plaintiffs. That includes a securities class-action suit accusing the company of failing to disclose the asbestos contamination, resulting in shareholders suffering losses. Several other suits have also been filed.

In July, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who said asbestos caused ovarian cancer.

The company has been reeling for a year now over claims that it knew about the contamination but didn't disclose it. CEO Alex Gorsky said Johnson & Johnson's baby talc is the purest, safest, most pharmaceutical grade talc in the world.

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Johnson & Johnson announced a $5 billion stock buy back program to help investors recover from market losses.

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