Johnson & Johnson Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky hasn’t shied away from publicly disputing claims the company’s talcum powder products contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. Yet, Gorsky is refusing to testify under oath at a U.S. congressional hearing to address the panel’s concerns about asbestos found in Johnson & Johnson baby powder.
Gorsky declined the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy’s “repeated attempts to accommodate the company” for nearly a month, Subcommittee chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi said in an announcement.
Johnson & Johnson has offered up a talc testing expert or a company executive who oversees its consumer products, emphasizing that Gorsky “is not, as we have repeatedly told the Subcommittee, an expert in the stated subject of the hearing.”
Yet, Gorsky was front-and-center defending the safety of company’s iconic baby powder and other talcum powder products last year after the company was hit with a $4.69 billion verdict in favor of 22 women who sued the company alleging that genital use of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder caused their ovarian cancer.
He also appeared on CNBC’s “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” to dispute Reuter’s December 2018 investigative report that revealed the company knew for decades the talc it used in its talcum powder products were contaminated with asbestos.
In an October deposition in a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talc caused his asbestos-associated cancer, Gorsky testified, “We unequivocally believe our talc and our baby powder does not contain asbestos.”
Also in October, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerted consumers that testing had revealed trace amounts of asbestos in samples of Johnson’s Baby Powder. The company recalled 33,000 bottles of its baby powder but argued the FDA’s testing was flawed. FDA said it stands by its test results.
Beasley Allen lawyers Ted Meadows and Leigh O’Dell are heading up the team handling claims of ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder use for feminine hygiene. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma; as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma.