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Unsealed Emails Show How J&J Shaped Report on Talc's Links to Cancer

  • Dependence on industry data keeps FDA ripe for pressure
  • J&J says its actions on report were appropriate, transparent
Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder
Johnson & Johnson’s baby powderPhotographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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Unsealed emails reveal the role baby-powder maker Johnson & Johnson played in a report that an industry group submitted to U.S. regulators deciding whether to keep warnings off talc-based products linked to cancer.

The emails -- unsealed in the state of Mississippi’s lawsuit against J&J over its refusal to add a safety warning -- show J&J and its talc supplier chose the scientists hired by their trade association, the Personal Care Products Council, to write the 2009 report assessing talc-based powders’ health risks. They also show the researchers changed the final version of their report at the companies’ behest. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it relied in part on the report in its decision to forgo a warning for the product.