- The DOJ is looking into whether J&J lied about the possible cancer risks of its talcum powder, according to the Bloomberg report .
- Lawsuits alleging the products are responsible for cancer have cited internal memos dated as far back as the 1960s that warn asbestos could be found in J&J talc products.
- Nearly a dozen court cases have concluded the company knew some of their Baby Powder products had at least trace amounts of asbestos and didn't warn consumers of the risk.
- Watch Johnson & Johnson trade live here .
Johnson & Johnson 's stock fell as much as 6% Friday after the US Justice Department announced a criminal investigation into whether the company lied about the possible cancer risks of its talcum powder products, according to a Bloomberg report .
The probe comes at the same time as a regulatory investigation and civil claims by thousands of cancer patients that allege the company's Baby Powder products caused their illnesses. More than 14,000 lawsuits filed against J&J claim the talc products contain asbestos and are responsible for ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.
The world's largest manufacturer of health care products said in February that it had received subpoenas, but much of the investigation was a mystery at the time. Lawsuits related to the presence of carcinogens in its baby powder have unearthed internal memos from as far back as the 1960s that warn asbestos detected in the company's talc products was a "severe health hazard" that could pose a legal risk.
Shares fell as much as 17% in December after reports of memos appearing to show J&J executives knew the products were contaminated as early as the 1970s.
Almost a dozen court cases have concluded J&J knew some of their products had at least trace amounts of asbestos and didn't disclose the risks to consumers. Jurors have already awarded more than $5 billion to those who blame the powders for their cancers. Although J&J asserts it has no liability because its products are safe, Bloomberg Intelligence estimates civil settlements related to its talc products could cost as much as $15 billion overall.
Aside from the civil suits brought by consumers, several J&J investors have accused the company of defrauding them, arguing its shares were artificially inflated because of its failure to disclose the dangers of its powder products.
"Regardless of the outcome, the timetable for such investigations can measure in years, not months," former SEC lawyer Jacob Frenkel told Bloomberg .
"The implication that there has been a new development in this matter is flatly wrong," J&J spokesman Jake Sargent told Business Insider in an emailed comment. "As we previously disclosed in our February 2019 SEC filing , we have received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice. We are fully cooperating with the DOJ investigation."
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