Two Lawmakers Question EPA on Asbestos After Reuters Report


Two Democratic U.S. lawmakers have called on the Environmental Protection Agency to answer questions about asbestos exposure after Reuters reported that documents showed Johnson & Johnson knew for decades of the mineral’s presence in its popular baby powder.

Whether asbestos in the talc supply in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder caused cancer has been the subject of litigation for years.

The lawmakers, Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Suzanne Bonamici, did not mention Johnson & Johnson by name but expressed “deep concern” about Friday’s Reuters report, according to a copy of their letter dated Dec. 19 and reviewed by Reuters.

In their letter, the two lawmakers asked the EPA how it was regulating potentially unsafe asbestos-containing products.

J&J has disputed the Reuters report, calling it a “misrepresentation.” The company says its talc is safe and has never contained asbestos, adding that decades of studies and regulatory assessments confirm the safety of its product.

Representatives for the EPA did not be respond to an email or a telephone call seeking comment on the congressional letter.

Asked about the lawmakers’ letter, J&J spokesman Ernie Knewitz declined to comment but said the Reuters report was “one-sided, false and inflammatory.”

According to the Reuters report, documents as well as deposition and trial testimony showed that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.

Most internal J&J asbestos test reports Reuters reviewed did not find asbestos.

The company has defended its products in recent days with a series of full-page newspaper advertisements and a television interview with its chief executive. Shares of the company have fallen about 12.5 percent since the Reuters report on Friday.

Merkley and Bonamici also asked the EPA to detail what steps it was taking to help prevent vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and infants from being exposed to products containing asbestos, including other products with talc, a mineral.

Although baby powder is subject to regulation under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, other talc products sold to consumers would be within the purview of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and thus the responsibility of the EPA, they wrote in the letter.

Democratic U.S. Senator Edward Markey separately called on the FDA to investigate the findings in the Reuters report in a letter on Friday. The FDA could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and one for which there is no controlled use or safe level of exposure,” Merkley and Bonamici wrote. “Fifty-five countries have already banned asbestos. Unfortunately, the United States still permits the use of asbestos.”

Canada Says Talc May be ‘Harmful to Human Health’


The government of Canada is considering measures that would prohibit or restrict the use of talc in some products. After reviewing the latest science and producing a draft screening assessment, the government “proposes that inhaling loose talc powders and using certain products containing talc in the female genital area may be harmful to human health.”

The announcement was made Wednesday on the Health Canada website.

The draft screening assessment will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, and will be open for public comment for 60 days, until February 6, 2019. The Risk Management Scope , which outlines the possible measures to manage the risks identified in the draft screening assessment, will also be open for public comment for the same 60-day period.

The final screening assessment and risk management approach will take into consideration any comments and new evidence received during the consultation period, the announcement notes.

No action, such as warning labels or a ban, will be taken until this final assessment is published, according to news reports.

The document notes that the draft assessment did not identify human health risks of concern from oral exposures, including talc in food and drugs; dermal exposures such as the application of talc-containing products to skin; or inhalational exposures from dry hair shampoo or pressed powder products, such as cosmetics like eye shadow and blush.

However, the assessment did identify two exposure scenarios of potential concern to human health.

One was inhalation of fine particles of talc during the use of loose powder, self-care products (eg, body powder, baby powder, face powder, foot powder), potentially resulting in damage to the lungs.

The other scenario of concern was exposure of the female perineal area, which includes the genitals, to self-care products containing talc (eg, body powder, baby powder, diaper and rash creams, genital antiperspirants and deodorants, body wipes, bath bombs), as this type of exposure has been associated with ovarian cancer in studies of the human population, the document notes.

Move Comes Amid Great Controversy, US Lawsuits

The move from Canada comes amid a growing controversy, as well as fiercely fought court battles in the United States, over whether use of talc in the female genital area contributes to ovarian cancer.

The controversy is over whether talc itself is a carcinogen, and the issue is complicated because talc is sometimes contaminated with asbestos (the two sometimes occur naturally together).

The scientific community has not reached a consensus.

A recent review appearing in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention ( Eur J Cancer Prev. 2008;17:139–146.) concludes that “data collectively do not indicate that cosmetic talc causes ovarian cancer.” The heterogeneity in the perineal dusting studies has raised important concerns over the validity of the exposure measurements, and the lack of a consistent dose–response effect limits making causal inferences. Perhaps more importantly, it is unknown whether external talc dust enters the female reproductive tract, and measures of internal talc exposure such as talc-dusted diaphragms and latex condoms show no relationship with ovarian cancer risk. Talc is not genotoxic, and mechanistic, pathology and animal model studies have not found evidence for a carcinogenic effect, the journal adds.

However, a recent review in Epidemiology ( Epidemiology. 2018;29:41–49 ), concluded that “in general, there is a consistent association between perineal talc use and ovarian cancer.” This was based on a meta-analysis of observational studies that included at least 50 cases of ovarian cancer, and looked at 24 case–control studies (13,421 cases) and three cohort studies (890 cases, 181,860 person-years).

In the US, thousands of lawsuits have been filed by individuals, or the families of deceased individuals, alleging that ovarian cancer was caused by the use of talc products such as Baby Powder and Shower-to Shower manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. The company is reported to be facing more than 10,000 plaintiffs.

Many of the lawsuits that have already taken place have found for the plaintiffs, but not all.

For example, a jury in Missouri ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in damages to the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died from ovarian cancer. However, in two cases juries on appeal overturned multimillion dollar awards: Gloria Ristesund of South Dakota was originally awarded $55 million in 2016, but in June the verdict was overturned. In August 2017, a jury in Los Angeles awarded $417 million to Eva Echeverria, but that verdict was overturned 2 months later.

A lawsuit in October 2018 involving a New Jersey woman cleared Johnson & Johnson of liability in a case of mesothelioma and the company’s baby powder product.

In one of the most recent cases, Johnson & Johnson was ordered in July to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women and their families, who claimed that asbestos in the company’s talc products led them to develop ovarian cancer.  The company said the verdict was ‘fundamentally unfair’ and says that its talc products do not contain asbestos.

Talc–Asbestos Connection Explained 

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral, mined from the earth, composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen, explains the Food and Drug Administration. It also notes that asbestos, another naturally occurring silicate mineral, may be found in close proximity in the earth, and so mining sites should be selected carefully. “Unlike talc, however, asbestos is a known carcinogen,” the agency notes.

The FDA says that “it continues to investigate and monitor reports of asbestos contamination in certain cosmetic products,” and notes that talc is used in many cosmetic products, including baby powder and makeup such as powder blush and eye shadow.

The American Cancer Society explains that asbestos does sometimes occur naturally in talc, but guidelines issued in the US in 1976 called for the removal of asbestos from commercial talc products.

However, many consumer groups note that this is an area that is not officially regulated, and report that makeup products sold in the United States that have been found to contain asbestos/talc. Consumer groups also point out that talc in cosmetics has been removed by the European Union, but is still allowed in the United States.

The American Cancer Society also emphasizes that it is important to distinguish between the two. Talc that contains asbestos is generally accepted as being able to cause cancer if it is inhaled. However, the evidence about asbestos-free talc is less clear, it notes.

It also cites the conclusions made by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The IARC classifies talc that contains asbestos as “carcinogenic to humans.”

Based on the lack of data from human studies and on limited data in lab animal studies, IARC classifies inhaled talc not containing asbestos as “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans.”

As there is limited evidence from human studies showing a link to ovarian cancer, IARC classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

The US National Cancer Institute says that the “the weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer. ”

J&J shares plunge 11% after report that the company knew for decades about asbestos in baby powder


  • Johnson & Johnson shares plunge 11% after a Reuters report said J&J knew for decades about asbestos in baby powder.
  • Reuters based its report on a review of documents and testimony.
  • It says that from 1971 to the early 2000s, J&J executives, mine managers, doctors and lawyers were aware the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.

In this photo illustration, a container of Johnson's baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson sits on a table on July 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

Johnson & Johnson shares fall on report of asbestos in talcum powder

Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its baby powder contained asbestos, Reuters saidin a report that drove the company’s shares down nearly 11 percent Friday.

Reuters based its report on a review of documents and deposition and trial testimony. It said the review showed that from 1971 to the early 2000s, J&J executives, mine managers, doctors and lawyers were aware the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos. Those involved discussed the problem but they did not disclose it to regulators or the public, Reuters’ examination found.

By late morning Friday, J&J stock was down 10.8 percent, on pace for its worst day in more than a decade, when its shares closed down 15.85 on July 19, 2002.

On top of likely being the stock’s biggest drop since 2002, the plunge was likely a shock for shareholders used to a boring consumer staple that moves in much steadier increments than the overall market and more volatile stocks. J&J’s stock beta over the last five years is 0.72, meaning that it swings much less than the market on a daily basis (a beta of 1 would mean it moves equal to the market and greater than 1 means it is more volatile than the S&P 500).

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys out for personal financial gain are distorting historical documents and intentionally creating confusion in the courtroom and in the media,” Ernie Knewitz, J&J’s vice president of global media relations, told Reuters in an email. “This is all a calculated attempt to distract from the fact that thousands of independent tests prove our talc does not contain asbestos or cause cancer. Any suggestion that Johnson & Johnson knew or hid information about the safety of talc is false.”

J&J referred Reuters to its outside lawyers, who rejected Reuters’ findings as “false and misleading.”

“The scientific consensus is that the talc used in talc-based body powders does not cause cancer, regardless of what is in that talc,” Peter Bicks told Reuters in an email. “This is true even if — and it does not — Johnson & Johnson’s cosmetic talc had ever contained minute, undetectable amounts of asbestos.” He dismissed the tests cited in Reuter’s article as “outlier” results, Reuters said.

The company has faced a wave of lawsuits alleging its talc baby powder products contain asbestos and caused ovarian and other cancers. Some juries have sided with J&J and others have been unable to reach verdicts. A Missouri jury in July ordered J&J to pay $4.9 billion in a case involving 22 women and their families. A judge affirmed the verdict in August and J&J vowed to appeal it.

J&J has filed thousands of documents in court proceedings, though most have been designated as confidential.

Johnson & Johnson Faces 2nd Trial in NJ Over Mesothelioma Claims


Johnson & Johnson is facing its second trial in New Jersey over claims that their talc powder products caused one man to develop mesothelioma.

Stephen Lanzo of Verona, New Jersey, says his use of Johnson & Johnson baby powder exposed him to asbestos and caused him to develop mesothelioma. He and his wife are seeking monetary damages.

Book about Mesothelioma and stethoscope on a table.

Lanzo is the second person to sue Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for claims that their talc powder products cause mesothelioma. This is the first case to be tried at the Middlesex County Courthouse.

Last year, a court in Los Angeles favored J&J in a similar lawsuit. In that case, a 61-year-old woman said her use of the company’s baby powder caused her to develop cancer.

“Johnson’s Baby Powder has been around since 1894 and it does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma or ovarian cancer,” said J&J after the case in California.

Several other cases across the country allege that the company’s baby powder products caused ovarian cancer.

“It’s true, we don’t know how many Johnson & Johnson users have mesothelioma,” said Moshe Maimon, Lanzo’s lawyer, in the case’s opening statements. “And the fact is that the defendants have never studied that.”

Lanzo’s lawsuit alleges that J&J knew its products contained asbestos, but failed to properly warn consumers. J&J’s legal team asserts that its products do not contain asbestos, and claim that the plaintiffs used faulty test methods to prove otherwise.

Other defendants in the case include Cyprus Amax Minerals Co. and Imerys Talc America.

J&J is facing more than 5,000 cases asserting talc-related claims. Most of the cases are largely based on claims that the company failed to warn women about the risks of developing ovarian cancer from their products.

Out of five trials in Missouri involving ovarian cancer, juries found the company liable four times and awarded $307 million to the plaintiffs. In California, a judge tossed a $417 million verdict awarded to one woman.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON FINALLY ADMITS: OUR BABY PRODUCTS CONTAIN CANCER-CAUSING INGREDIENTS!


According to newest research, it seems that mothers are bathing their children in toxins! Yes, toxins. Namely, it appears that Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s most famous baby care product companies, are using toxic materials in their products. Hence, these toxins are harming the babies’ skin.

As you probably already know, a child’s immune system is very delicate. And, when they’re exposed to toxins, they can experience lifelong health issues. In fact, the products by Johnson & Johnson irritate the child’s skin and attack their immunity by encouraging excessive immune responses.

So, if you happen to be a parent who’s using these products, take a look at the label. You’ll see how many products there are that you cannot even pronounce right. As an example, 1.4-dioxane is the main toxin present in these products. Hence, the Environmental Protection Agency linked it with skin irritation, headaches, drowsiness, liver damage, and vertigo.

Moreover, quartenium-15 is a well-known carcinogen present in the company’s baby shampoo which is known to release formaldehyde, a harmful chemical which causes skin irritation over time.

Currently, the company claims that they’re in a process of removing the harmful toxins from their products. Since in other countries their products are toxin-free, why wait so long to remove them from the USA products as well?

Until this happens, you should try and find more natural products for your kids. For example, opt for the following brands: Burt’s Bees, Aveeno, BabyGanics, California Baby, and Little Twig.

Five Reasons Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap


As the FDA recently noted, antibacterial products are no more effective than soap and water, and could be dangerous

antibacterial soap

A few weeks ago, the FDA announced a bold new position on antibacterial soap: Manufacturers have to show that it’s both safe and more effective than simply washing with conventional soap and water, or they have to take it off the shelves in the next few years.

 About 75 percent of liquid antibacterial soaps and 30 percent of bars use a chemical called triclosan as an active ingredient. The drug, which was originally used strictly in hospital settings, was adopted by manufacturers of soaps and other home products during the 1990s, eventually ballooning into an industry that’s worth an estimated $1 billion. Apart from soap, we’ve begun putting the chemical in wipes, hand gelscutting boards, mattress pads and all sorts of home items as we try our best to eradicate any trace of bacteria from our environment.

But triclosan’s use in home over-the-counter products was never fully evaluated by the FDA—incredibly, the agency was ordered to produce a set of guidelines for the use of triclosan in home products way back in 1972, but only published its final draft on December 16 of last year. Their report, the product of decades of research, notes that the costs of antibacterial soaps likely outweigh the benefits, and forces manufacturers to prove otherwise.

Bottom line: Manufacturers have until 2016 to do so, or pull their products from the shelves. But we’re here to tell you that you probably shouldn’t wait that long to stop using antibacterial soaps. Here’s our rundown of five reasons why that’s the case:

1. Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than conventional soap and water. As mentioned in the announcement, 42 years of FDA research—along with countless independent studies—have produced no evidence that triclosan provides any health benefits as compared to old-fashioned soap.

“I suspect there are a lot of consumers who assume that by using an antibacterial soap product, they are protecting themselves from illness, protecting their families,” Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the FDA’s drug center, told the AP. “But we don’t have any evidence that that is really the case over simple soap and water.”

Manufacturers say they do have evidence of triclosan’s superior efficacy, but the disagreement stems from the use of different sorts of testing methods. Tests that strictly measure the number of bacteria on a person’s hands after use do show that soaps with triclosan kill slightly more bacteria than conventional ones.

But the FDA wants data that show that this translates into an actual clinical benefit, such as reduced infection rates. So far, analyses of the health benefits don’t show any evidence that triclosan can reduce the transmission of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. This might be due to the fact that antibacterial soaps specifically target bacteria, but not the viruses that cause the majority of seasonal colds and flus.

2. Antibacterial soaps have the potential to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The reason that the FDA is making manufacturers prove these products’ efficacy is because of a range of possible health risks associated with triclosan, and bacterial resistance is first on the list.

Heavy use of antibiotics can cause resistance, which results from a small subset of a bacteria population with a random mutation that allows it to survive exposure to the chemical. If that chemical is used frequently enough, it’ll kill other bacteria, but allow this resistant subset to proliferate. If this happens on a broad enough scale, it can essentially render that chemical useless against the strain of bacteria.

This is currently a huge problem in medicine—the World Health Organization calls it a “threat to global health security.” Some bacteria species (most notably, MRSA) have even acquired resistance to several different drugs, complicating efforts to control and treat infections as they spread. Health officials say that further research is needed before we can say that triclosan is fueling resistance, but several studieshave hinted at the possibility.

3. The soaps could act as endocrine disruptors.  A number of studies have found that, in rats, frogs and other animals, triclosan appears to interfere with the body’s regulation of thyroid hormone, perhaps because it chemically resembles the hormone closely enough that it can bind to its receptor sites. If this is the case in humans, too, there are worries that it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer.

These same effects haven’t yet been found in humans, but the FDA calls the animal studies “a concern”—and notes that, given the minimal benefits of long-term triclosan use, it’s likely not worth the risk.

4. The soaps might lead to other health problems, too. There’s evidence that children with prolonged exposure to triclosan have a higher chance of developing allergies, including peanut allergies and hay fever. Scientists speculate that this could be a result of reduced exposure to bacteria, which could be necessary for proper immune system functioning and development.

Another study found evidence that triclosan interfered with muscle contractions in human cells, as well as muscle activity in live mice and minnows. This is especially concerning given other findings that the chemical can penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream more easily than originally thought. A 2008 survey, for instance, found triclosan in the urine of 75 percent of people tested.

5. Antibacterial soaps are bad for the environment. When we use a lot of triclosan in soap, that means a lot of triclosan gets flushed down the drain. Research has shown that small quantities of the chemical can persist after treatment at sewage plants, and as a result, USGS surveys have frequently detected it in streams and other bodies of water. Once in the environment, triclosan can disrupt algae’s ability to perform photosynthesis.

The chemical is also fat-soluble—meaning that it builds up in fatty tissues—so scientists are concerned that it can biomagnify, appearing at greater levels in the tissues of animals higher up the food chain, as the triclosan of all the plants and animals below them is concentrated. Evidence of this possibility was turned up in 2009, when surveys of bottlenose dolphins off the coast of South Carolina and Florida found concerning levels of the chemical in their blood.

What Should You Do?

If you’re planning on giving up antibacterial soap—like Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente and several other companies have recently done—you have a couple options.

One is a non-antibiotic hand sanitizer, like Purell, which don’t contain any triclosan and simply kill both bacteria and viruses with good old-fashioned alcohol. Because the effectiveness of hand-washing depends on how long you wash for, a quick squirt of sanitizer might be more effective when time is limited.

Outside of hospitals, though, the CDC recommends the time-tested advice you probably heard as a child: wash your hands with conventional soap and water. That’s because while alcohol from hand sanitizer kills bacteria, it doesn’t actually remove dirt or anything else you may have touched. But a simple hand wash should do the trick. The water doesn’t need to be hot, and you’re best off scrubbing for about 30 seconds to get properly clean.

Johnson & Johnson Pays $55M In Second Lawsuit Claiming Talcum Powder Products Cause Ovarian Cancer


ohnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $55 million in damages to a South Dakota woman who claimed the use of their talc-based powder products resulted in her ovarian cancer.

Baby powder

Last Monday, a woman from South Dakota was granted $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages after she claimed Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder-based products caused her ovarian cancer, The New York Daily News reported. This is thesecond lawsuit the company has lost this year.

Gloria Ristesund used the company’s talc-based powder products, including Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower Powder, on her genitals as a part of her hygienic routine for decades. According to her lawyers, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after undergoing hysterectomy and other related surgeries, something she believed to be related to her use of talc-based products. Her cancer is currently in remission, Reuters reported.

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., with 20,000 women being diagnosed with the illness each year, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. It accounts for 3 percent of all cancers in women.

The verdict adds to the ongoing debate about the safety of talc-based cosmetic products, and comes just three months after Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of an Alabama woman who died from the same type of cancer. Despite these two losses, the company maintains that their products are safe and plan to appeal the recent decision.

“Unfortunately, the jury’s decision goes against 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc,” Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement. “For over 100 years, Johnson & Johnson has provided consumers with a safe choice for cosmetic powder products and we will continue to work hard to exceed consumer expectations and evolving product preferences.”

Talcum powder is widely used in cosmetic products, including adult body and facial powders. The powder — made from talc, a mineral that consists of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen — is used to keep skin dry and protect against rashes. Some talc contains asbestos, a substance that has been linked to cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled, according to the American Cancer Society; however, this type of talc is not used in modern consumer products.

Dr. Daniel Cramer first suggested there was a link between using talcum powder on genitals and ovarian cancer in 1982. After this finding, he was reportedly called by companies for help putting warning labels on these kinds of products. A more recent study, released shortly after the February verdict, supported Cramer’s finding, that applying the product to genitals, underwear, and sanitary napkins could increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer risk by a third.

Jim Onder, who served as an attorney for the plaintiffs in the two recent cases, said internal documents show that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the studies linking their products to ovarian cancer.

“The evidence is real clear that Johnson & Johnson has known about the dangers associated with talcum powder for over 30 years,” said Onder, according to the New York Daily News. “Instead of giving a warning, what they did was targeted the groups most at risk for developing ovarian cancer.” The groups Onder is referring to are overweight women, black and Latino people.

Johnson & Johnson is reportedly facing more than 1,200 talcum-powder lawsuits accusing the company of not adequately warning consumers about their products cancer risks.

Johnson & Johnson Finally Admits: Their Baby Products Contain Cancer-Causing Chemicals


“Children are our future” as Whitney Houston sang so passionately in the mid 80s. If this is true (and it most definitely is), why are trusted corporations, headed by mothers and fathers just like you and me, selling potentially cancer-causing baby products? Any kind of carcinogenic material shouldn’t come into contact with things we put in and on our bodies, at any age. In infancy, the most vulnerable time in our lives (spare a major illness potentially caused by these products), exposure to some of the chemicals Johnson & Johnson has just admitted to using could spell disaster.

So What’s In It?

Formaldehyde has been detected in Johnson & Johnson products. Studies suggest it may cause cancer—and it is in your baby’s shampoo. The chemical is commonly used as an embalming agent when preparing a corpse for burial. What is it doing in consumer-use products, you ask? The “why” is unclear but the “how” is quaternium-15. This ingredient releases formaldehyde, which is known to cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation. It has also been tied to leukemia.

“The North American Content Dermatitis Group considers quaternium-15 to be among the most clinically significant contact allergens in children”

But Wait! There’s More (Sorry)

Johnson & Johnson has another dangerous chemical in their cocktail of potentially cancer-promoting chemicals. 1,4-dioxane is also part of the mix and it too has carcinogenic properties. This gem is a brain toxin that can cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.

They Are Taking Their Sweet Time Fixing This And To Hell With The Consequences

For some reason, Johnson & Johnson are not putting a hop in their step to fix this problem. Even with millions of helpless babies bathing in their bathwater, the company is moving slowly in removing these chemicals from products sold in the U.S. The company produces products that are free of these chemicals for other countries. Necessity breeds invention.

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A Statement | A Contradiction

Though well-written, this statement is full of contradictions. If your products are “approved in the countries where they are sold”, why would you need to “reduc[e] the number of formulations globally with these ‘formaldehyde releaser’ preservatives by 33% and in the U.S. by over 60%”? 

A Statement | A ContradictionInconsistent Regulation
Analytical Sciences, an independent laboratory hired by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, has tested several of J&J baby products. They found that the samples from the U.S. had low levels of the chemicals in their initial report. However, according to Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, subsequent consumer groups in Sweden, Japan, and South Africa contacted the group to note that quaternium-15 was not being used in ANY products sold in those countries.

Archer noted that there are strict bans on these chemicals in consumer products in some countries, but not others.

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But Wait! There's More (Sorry)

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Ghana halts Ebola vaccine trial due to community protests.


Ghana has halted a plan to test two Ebola vaccines in an eastern town after legislators backed local protests against the trials sparked by fears of contamination, officials said on Wednesday.

The country’s Food and Drugs Authority said it had begun enlisting volunteers in Hohoe in the Volta region to be injected with drugs made by Johnson & Johnson and Bavarian Nordic as part of a global Ebola vaccine drive.

Youth leaders threatened to boycott the program. “We don’t want to be guinea pigs,” one local leader told Reuters.

Ebola has killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since it began more than a year ago but new cases have declined sharply. Ghana has yet to record a case.

“The (health) minister has suspended the trials indefinitely because the people said they don’t want it,” Health Ministry spokesman Tony Goodman said. The worst-hit countries have completed first trials of an experimental vaccine.

On Wednesday, parliament ordered the trials suspended and summoned the health minister to appear next week on the matter, senior parliamentary official Ebenezer Dzietror told Reuters.

Johnson & Johnson Slams Door on International Mechanism to Increase Access to Treatment for People living with HIV/AIDS


Company Refuses to License Patents on Three Lifesaving AIDS Drugs to Medicines Patent Pool

 

Despite continuing to earn record profits and a company credo that calls for putting patients first, on December 19, Johnson & Johnson continued to turn its back on people living with HIV/AIDS in many developing countries by telling the Pool it refused to license its patents on the HIV drugs rilpivirine, darunavir, and etravirine.

Over the past two years, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been urging Johnson & Johnson, and other companies holding HIV drug patents, to take this critical step of joining the Pool. The Pool would license patents on HIV drugs to other manufacturers and the resulting competition would dramatically reduce prices, making them much more affordable in the developing world and allow new combination medicines.

In refusing to join the Medicines Patent Pool, Johnson & Johnson says there is no urgency for making these drugs widely available in developing countries. That’s simply not true. MSF now provides treatment to more than 180,000 people living with HIV worldwide, and is beginning to witness the inevitable, natural phenomenon of treatment failure, whereby people develop resistance to the drugs they are taking and need to graduate to newer medicines.

Furthermore, rilpivirine, darunavir, and etravirine were identified among the key drug formulations needed for HIV treatment by the Medicines Patent Pool, UNITAID and the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS Department.

Why Joining the Medicines Patent Pool Matters for Access to Medicines

Newer, better antiretrovirals are already used by patients in the US and Europe, but aren’t available to people in developing countries or are simply too expensive. People living with HIV need access to these newer treatments, so they have the best chance of keeping the virus from further weakening their immune system as they navigate this life–long disease. By helping make these drugs more affordable, the Medicines Patent Pool will ensure the delivery of these newer drugs for people in the developing world.

Treating HIV is complex and often requires patients to take multiple drug cocktails. But by combining the different drugs into one easy-to-take pill, it is easier for patients to stick to their treatment. At the moment, it can be a struggle for generic producers to develop these much needed fixed–dose combinations, because different companies own the patents on the various drugs. By putting these patents under collective management, the Patent Pool will make it possible for many more combination therapies to be developed.

Although Johnson & Johnson is already engaging in voluntary licensing with some generic companies they decided against taking the extra step of joining the Pool to improve access for people living with HIV. The company’s proposal to expand access to its HIV medicines does not go far enough, and they know it.

In saying no to the Medicines Patent Pool, Johnson & Johnson has made a conscious, willful decision to turn its back on people living with HIV in the developing world. Last year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which holds a partial patent on the Johnson & Johnson drug darunavir, licensed its part of the darunavir patent to the Pool. By refusing to join the Patent Pool, Johnson & Johnson has effectively made this NIH license useless.

Why Johnson & Johnson’s Response is Not Enough

Individual company drug pricing discounts or deals with specific countries or generic manufacturers limit the competition, which is what ultimately brings down prices. Unless Johnson & Johnson and other companies take part in a collective way forward to bring affordable medicines to more people in all developing countries, they are not part of the solution as they want the public to think. They are contributing to the problem. They want to control who can make and use their drugs based on their commercial needs rather than the needs of people living with HIV.

There are now more than six million people receiving lifesaving HIV treatment worldwide. This didn’t happen because individual companies lowered their prices for specific countries or worked out exclusive deals with certain generic companies, which is what Johnson & Johnson is doing with their newest HIV medicines. Antiretroviral treatment was made more accessible because of competition among many generic companies which helped bring prices down by 99 percent, from $10,000 per patient per year to roughly $150 per patient per year.

Going forward, mechanisms to promote generic competition by overriding patents—as allowed by international law—in addition to voluntary initiatives, such as the Medicines Patent Pool, will be crucial to ensuring that monopolies do not stand in the way of patients’ access to lifesaving drugs.

Continuing the Fight for Patients

The fight for our patients does not end here with this announcement from Johnson & Johnson. MSF will continue to press Johnson & Johnson and other companies holding patents on essential HIV/AIDS medicines to join the Medicines Patent Pool.

Ultimately, it is about breaking the double standard of access to essential medicines for patients living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries. For the sake of patients who are resistant to today’s treatment as well as patients of tomorrow who are still waiting for access to improved drugs, MSF will continue to call for real access to affordable medicines.

Source:MSF newsletter