Johnson & Johnson buyers reject proposal to finish world talc gross sales.


Johnson & Johnson’s shareholders voted in opposition to a proposal on Thursday to discontinue gross sales of its talc child powder all over the world as the buyer items big tries to protect itself from tens of 1000’s of lawsuits over the product.

The proposal, which didn’t win a majority of votes on the firm’s annual assembly, was fueled by issues concerning the child powder’s potential hyperlinks to most cancers and claims that the talc within the product might be contaminated by asbestos. Greater than 40,000 lawsuits have been filed in opposition to the corporate, some together with accusations that Johnson & Johnson marketed child powder to Black and chubby ladies regardless of realizing about doable asbestos contamination for many years.

The product is now not accessible in North America — Johnson & Johnson pulled it from cabinets in 2020, a 12 months after recalling a few of its child powder in 2019. However the product, which the corporate has repeatedly insisted is protected and free from contaminants, continues to be bought in markets similar to Asia and South America.

Johnson & Johnson had urged shareholders to vote in opposition to the shareholder decision, saying of child powder in its proxy assertion that “a long time of science have reaffirmed its security.” The proxy advisory agency Institutional Shareholder Providers agreed, though it defined in a notice that “shareholders ought to stay conscious of potential continued dangers from this subject globally.”

Glass Lewis, one other proxy advisory agency, supported the proposal, writing in its advice that “stopping all gross sales of talc-based child powder may assist to restore some injury to the Firm’s status and will stop potential lawsuits, fines, or penalties in markets outdoors North America.”

The proposal was submitted by Tulipshare, a British activist investor that has additionally focused corporations like Apple and Amazon and mentioned it appealed to Johnson & Johnson shareholders, similar to Vanguard and State Avenue, for help this week. The decision highlighted Johnson & Johnson’s authorized and reputational burdens: Final 12 months, it confronted $1.6 billion in talc-related litigation bills, after setting apart $3.9 billion for authorized payments the 12 months earlier than.

“That is now not a political or authorized or shopper drawback,” mentioned Antoine Argouges, the founding father of Tulipshare. “It is a shareholder drawback.”

A separate shareholder proposal, submitted by the activist investor group Mercy Funding Providers, additionally raised issues about talc whereas asking Johnson & Johnson to rent outdoors auditors to evaluate the racial penalties of its insurance policies. The proposal, which handed, talked about “troubling” claims that the corporate “aggressively marketed” its talc merchandise to ladies of shade regardless of well being issues.

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