Johnson & Johnson falls on report about possible baby powder documents

Shares of Johnson & Johnson fell Monday on a report of which court proceedings could expose potentially damaging documents.

J&J is actually facing numerous lawsuits claiming its talc products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder caused cancer. The company has insisted its baby powder does not contain asbestos as well as causes neither mesothelioma nor ovarian cancer.

In a statement, a J&J spokesman pointed to a California judge ruling in favor of J&J in November in a lawsuit by a woman who said she developed mesothelioma after using the company’s talc-based products. He said the company would likely continue to defend its position in future cases.

“We are confident of which our talc products are, as well as always have been, free of asbestos, based on decades of monitoring, testing as well as regulation dating back to the 1970s,” he said. “Historical testing of samples by the FDA, numerous independent laboratories, as well as numerous independent scientists have all confirmed the absence of asbestos in our talc products.”

J&J’s stock fell 5 percent on Monday. Jefferies analyst Jared Holz said the report reads poorly, nevertheless he doubts of which will have a real impact.

In a note to investors, Wells Fargo analyst Larry Biegelsen said the concerns on the talc lawsuits “appear overblown.”

Even if J&J settled all 5,500 cases for $280,000 per case (the highest amount among liability cases inside drug as well as device sectors the firm has tracked), the total liability to J&J would likely be $1.5 billion, he wrote. At the end of the fourth quarter, J&J had $18.4 billion of cash as well as marketable securities.

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