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NYT's "The Weekly" Tackles the Toxicity of Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder


NYT's "The Weekly" Tackles the Toxicity of Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder

Pat Schmitz

The Weekly, a new TV series from The New York Times, latest episode centers around a woman diagnosed with mesothelioma who chose to spend what turned out to be her last few months fighting Johnson & Johnson. Patricia Schmitz vividly recalls the almost sacred ritual of bathing and powering her younger siblings and later herself and her children, after all, “how much damage could you do with powdering?” Her lawyers convinced a jury that asbestos in talc mines led to contaminated baby powder and she won. Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the case as they have for nearly all of the cases they’ve lost.

Like Patricia Schmitz, thousands of people who trusted Johnson’s Baby Powder for generations are suing the company after developing cancers associated with asbestos. NYT reporters investigate their allegations and examine corporate documents which indicated that executives raised concerns decades ago about asbestos contamination in talc used to make Johnson’s Baby Powder. As a reminder, the government does not check the safety of commercial talc products but instead relies on the industry to self-regulate. J&J continues to insist that its baby power is safe despite the evidence.

This latest investigative piece is yet another devastating example of the human toll of corporate greed and deception. According to Patricia, “if there isn’t a consequence, nothing will change.”

Check out the trailer and a summary of the investigative reporting here and watch the full episode of The Weekly on FX or Hulu.

An FDA official in the 1970s reassured J&J that a draft report about asbestos in the company’s baby powder would come out, “Over my dead body.”