Johnson & Johnson’s Chief Executive Alex Gorsky, in this month, insisted that the company’s iconic brand was safe.
The company unequivocally believes that their product, such as talc and baby powder, does not contain asbestos, Gorsky said in an Oct. 3 case involving a retired college professor who claims his cancer was caused due to the Baby Powder he used for many years. The statement has not been previously reported.
Gorsky, citing “several numbers of tests and research” to assist his testimony, stated: “I’m not aware of our baby powder or talc-containing asbestos.”
That’s a harder time for him to say now. Last Wednesday, 13 days after his deposition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration informed the healthcare company it had found asbestos, an identified carcinogen, in a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder.
On Friday, a day after getting the complete FDA test results, Johnson & Johnson’s recalled 33,000 bottles of Baby Powder in the U.S. The first time the company has to recall Baby Powder to prevent possible asbestos contamination, and the first time U.S. regulators have announced the presence of asbestos within the product.
The recall is the disaster to a healthcare conglomerate that has, for many years, tried to project an image as a caring company. It’s now dealing with thousands of lawsuits over a wide range of products, including legal action by more than 15,000 consumers alleging its talc powders and other product caused their cancers.
The FDA finding will make it far more difficult for Gorsky and the company to proceed, saying that they assume the talc powders are free from asbestos, mentioned Elizabeth Burch, a product liability expert on the University of Georgia School of Law. She stated the test result and recalled lend credibility to what plaintiffs have been arguing in court for months.
Jim Kramer, the lawyer who deposed Gorsky in this month, stated he plans to ask the New York state judge within the case to permit him to question the CEO for the second time in light of the FDA’s decisions and the recall.
J&J declined to comment on the possibility of a second-round with Kramer or about its legal strategy following the FDA test result.
Gorsky faces at least one more allegation, this one ordered by a Missouri judge for Baby Powder product cancer cases pending in that state. That has yet to be scheduled.