What to do when an exposé tanks your stock? For J&J, you go direct to consumers

J&J is launching a new print and online ad to push back on news reports about its baby powder. (Raysonho/CC0)

Johnson & Johnson is taking its baby powder case to consumers. A new print and online ad will begin running this week contending “Our talc is safe” and asking people to read the scientific evidence for themselves.

“Science. Not sensationalism.” That's the ad's headline, accompanied by a simple image of the iconic white bottle of Johnson’s baby powder and six paragraphs that explain J&J’s position.

An accompanying statement from J&J refutes point by point the source of the renewed talc concerns—a Reuters special report published on Friday titled “J&J knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder.” J&J’s lengthy rebuttal goes through the article’s claims and repeatedly accuses the news outlet of omitting information that J&J said it supplied.


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“The information Reuters relied upon has been publicly available for years,” reads the statement in part. “It is unfortunate that while Reuters was provided with many of these detailed facts, they elected not to report them.”

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson says talc products have always been asbestos-free. Court documents suggest otherwise

The J&J statement lays out scientific tests, court cases, previous news reporting and a cadre of health and safety regulatory bodies and organizations that it says refute the news report.

J&J concludes with an accusation that Reuters refused to meet with J&J to discuss the issue further: “Reuters claims that ‘J&J declined to comment further for this article’ even though Reuters was provided with extensive documents—most of which were not included in the article. J&J offered numerous times to meet with Reuters in person to discuss with appropriate experts all of its allegations, and each time Reuters refused.”

RELATED: Talc attorney says J&J used law firm to shield contribution for journal article

J&J has ample reason to defend itself. Its stock price dropped by more than 10% on the news Friday, plummeting from $147 per share to as low as $130.

J&J has been defending its baby brand's flagship product for several years in lawsuits alleging that the product causes ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. While the healthcare conglomerate has so far won some of the cases and lost others, the ongoing lawsuits impact J&J’s corporate image, as the baby powder is so closely identified with the parent company.

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