Johnson & Johnson Recalls 33,000 Baby Powder Bottles After FDA Finds Asbestos
Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos in one of its bottles.
While the recall pertains to a single lot of baby powder, it is unwelcome news for the company, which faces thousands of lawsuits claiming that its talc-based baby powder caused cancer, as CBS News reported.
This is the first time that Johnson & Johnson has needed to recall its baby powder over asbestos concerns. Even though the company reported nearly $82 billion in sales last year, and its products line store shelves and pharmacy counters with brands like Tylenol and Band-Aid, it is facing over 100,000 lawsuits questioning the safety of its products, according to the New York Times.
"I understand today's recall may be concerning to all those individuals who may have used the affected lot of baby powder," Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless said in a statement on Friday, as CNN reported. "I want to assure everyone that the agency takes these concerns seriously and that we are committed to our mandate of protecting the public health."
"The FDA continues to test cosmetic products that contain talc for the presence of asbestos to protect Americans from potential health risks," Sharpless said, according to CNN.
More than 15,000 of those are from litigants who say baby powder and other talc-based products caused them to develop cancer. Several plaintiffs suffer from mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that is the hallmarks of asbestos exposure, according to the New York Times.
However, Johnson & Johnson issued a statement that vigorously defended their practices and the safety of its products.
"[J&J] has a rigorous testing standard in place to ensure its cosmetic talc is safe and years of testing, including the FDA's own testing on prior occasions — and as recently as last month — found no asbestos," the company said in a statement, as CBS News reported.
"Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos. Our talc comes from ore sources confirmed to meet our stringent specifications that exceed industry standards," the statement added.
The company noted that the amount of asbestos detected was minuscule and it is looking at how any could get into its supply. In fact, the levels found were smaller than 0.00002 percent of the bottles content. Johnson & Johnson is investigating to see if the bottle is counterfeit, if the plastic safety seal was broken, or where any cross-contamination may have occurred, according to CNN.
"FDA will be working with Johnson & Johnson to facilitate further investigation to substantiate that the product is authentic. At this time, there is no indication that the product is counterfeit. Additionally, FDA is not aware of any records pointing to counterfeit Johnson's baby powder in the US market," FDA spokeswoman Lyndsay Meyer wrote in an email to CNN.
Johnson & Johnson has already settled some claims over its role in the opioid crisis. It is fighting others. Earlier this month, the company was ordered to pay $8 billion for playing down the risks associated with Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug. And, last week, one day before the baby powder recall, the company agreed to pay $117 million in a settlement over deceptive marketing of transvaginal pelvic mesh implants, as the New York Times reported.
"I can't imagine an attorney for Johnson & Johnson standing up in front of a jury now and saying with a straight face that the product is safe," said David Noll, a law professor at Rutgers University, to the New York Times. He added that "if people come to associate the company's signature product with deadly diseases, there will be huge spillover effects for its ability to market other products."
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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