Friday, December 13, 2019 – Johnson & Johnson Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky failed to appear in a hearing before the Congressional Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy after he was asked to testify about the safety of the company’s baby powder and other talc products.
Nov. 15, panel chairman Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi sent an invitation to Gorsky requesting his appearance before Congress to address public health concerns. The hearing, scheduled Dec. 10, 2019, was established after the committee reportedly attempted to accommodate Gorsky’s schedule for over a month.
During his Dec. 10 opening statement, Krishnamoorthi referenced Johnson & Johnson’s response to an earlier committee hearing that addressed the safety of talc-based products, saying, “In a media release subsequent to our hearing, they stated, and I quote, ‘The subcommittee did not hear a preponderance of evidence that supports the safety of our products.’ … We wanted Mr. Gorsky to come forward with J&J’s side of the story, but he declined. We can only speculate as to why I am currently speaking to an empty chair.”
Krishnamoorthi was not reluctant to express the committee’s disappointment in Gorsky and in the Johnson & Johnson corporation.
“While Mr. Gorsky has not refrained from making multiple public statements on this issue, including authoring written statements and speaking with media outlets, he has now avoided voluntarily testifying under oath before Congress,” he said.
“In fact, in this subcommittee’s very first hearing earlier this year, we examined possible carcinogens in talc-based products. Johnson & Johnson objected to the hearing, complaining it had not been invited to participate.”
Committee chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney added, “The American people need to have faith that their products are safe, and that is part of FDA’s critical role. If J&J claims there is some problem with FDA’s methods or procedures, they need to explain those allegations in detail, and provide the basis for their allegations.
“Unfortunately, as the chairman explained, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson, Alex Gorsky, has declined the subcommittee’s invitation to testify here today. … He apparently doesn’t want to defend his company’s actions here today. That is unfortunate, and frankly unhelpful.”
Talc Dangers and Allegations Addressed by Congressional Committee
The committee discussed several potentially damning aspects regarding talc products and Johnson & Johnson’s implied and alleged cover-up of potential dangers with its talc-based products. Those issues included:
Documentation uncovered by an independent Reuters investigation that decades of tests detected asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talc products.
An internal memo of Johnson & Johnson dating back to 1975 in which employees discussed the suppression of using certain tests that were routinely finding asbestos in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. In the memo, an employee was quoted as saying, “We want to avoid promotion of this approach.”
When concerned consumers approached the FDA and alarms were sounded, according to Krishnamoorthi’s statement, talcum powder sales to Caucasians dipped. Johnson & Johnson allegedly went on the offensive, changing its marketing campaign to target people of color.
Johnson & Johnson reportedly hired a branding company to conduct consumer research, which found that many consumers were averse to the word “talc.” They then allegedly removed the word “talc” from the front of the bottles of powder that contain talc, while more prominently displaying the word “cornstarch” on bottles with cornstarch alternative.
Despite hard evidence, including internal documentation, that Johnson & Johnson has known all along that they are exposing consumers to carcinogens in asbestos-tainted talc, they continue to sell talc products — this in spite of the fact that other countries, including Canada, are issuing warnings to their citizens regarding the use of talc.
Though generic versions of talcum powder include warning labels letting consumers know of the possibility of asbestos contamination, Johnson & Johnson talc products contain no such warning.
Johnson & Johnson’s response to Gorsky’s failure to attend was that Gorsky “is not, as we have repeatedly told the subcommittee, an expert in the stated subject of the hearing.”
Juries have now issued billions of dollars in verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in a handful of cases filed by women or their survivors linking their ovarian cancer to use of Johnson & Johnson powders.
The attorneys at OnderLaw in St. Louis have been at the forefront of the effort to hold Johnson & Johnson accountable for their actions. They are now more experienced than any other law firm in the nation regarding talc claims.
If you are a woman who has been diagnosed with ovarian or related cancers, and you used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder or Shower to Shower routinely for a period of four years or more, you are invited to call OnderLaw for a free consultation.