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J&J CEO refuses to testify in US House hearing on contaminated talc powder

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky will not testify before the U.S. House of Representatives on the health risks from asbestos found in the healthcare giant's talcum powder, but the Dec. 10 hearing will proceed anyway.

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy said Dec. 9 that Gorsky was given nearly a month's notice of the hearing and offered multiple scheduling accommodations, but the company declined to participate. The hearing, led by Subcommittee Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi, will assess detection methods and public health implications of asbestos in talc powders. The subcommittee is part of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

J&J is facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that its baby powder products have been tainted with the known carcinogen. The hearing was set to examine the risk of exposure to talc products containing asbestos, a similar mineral that is mined in close proximity to the consumer product. Talc powders containing asbestos have been linked to mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported in October that asbestos had been detected in one lot of J&J's baby powder, a finding that the New Brunswick, N.J.-based company later refuted in its own testing.

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