Johnson & Johnson shares plunge after report on asbestos in baby powder

In this file photo taken on July 13, 2018, In this photo illustration, a container of Johnson's baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson sits on a table on in San Francisco, California. (AFP)
Updated 15 December 2018
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Johnson & Johnson shares plunge after report on asbestos in baby powder

  • The controversy has long dogged the company, which has been facing a wave of several thousand court cases claiming the baby powder is causing cancer

NEW YORK: US pharmaceutical and cosmetics group Johnson & Johnson saw its shares plunge Friday after a media report alleged the group had deliberately concealed for decades that its baby powder sometimes contained asbestos.
A lengthy investigation by the Reuters news agency, which reviewed thousands of company documents, showed the company marketed talc-based products that, at least between 1971 and the beginning in the 2000s, sometimes contained asbestos.
The company’s executives, researchers, doctors and lawyers were aware but deliberately chose not to disclose this information and not to refer it to the authorities, according to the report.
Johnson & Johnson strenuously rejected the claims made in the article, calling it “one-sided, false and inflammatory.”
“Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory,” the company said in a statement. “Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is safe and asbestos-free.”
J&J stock closed down more than 10 percent at $133 on the New York Stock Exchange, its worst one-day fall in 16 years.
The controversy has long dogged the company, which has been facing a wave of several thousand court cases claiming the baby powder is causing cancer.
In July, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.7 billion in damages to a group of 22 women claiming to have developed ovarian cancer following the use of the powder.
The company said Friday there were rigorous tests showing the talc did not contain the cancer-causing mineral.
In addition, “J&J has cooperated fully and openly with the US FDA and other global regulators, providing them with all the information they requested over decades.”
According to Reuters, the company also tried, unsuccessfully, to block regulations that lower the maximum level of asbestos allowed in talc-based cosmetics.


Virtual reality to improve patient experience in health care

Eng. Faisal Ayman Ashour helps introduce virtual reality (VR) to Saudi hospitals in 2018. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Virtual reality to improve patient experience in health care

  • Saudi engineer’s innovation will help people with anxiety, addictions
  • Experiments must be completed before an idea can be distributed, that sometimes takes more than 10 years,” said Ashour

JEDDAH: Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-based three-dimensional imaging sequence that creates a world within a computer system, allowing users to interact with it via a display screen, usually mounted to the face.
Previously, VR had only really impacted the public through video games, but Eng. Faisal Ayman Ashour looked at it differently.
He saw it as a potential non-pharmacologic form of pain relief, by delivering enough sensory information to reduce patient anxiety, eliminating the need for sedatives.
Many hospitals around the world have started experimenting with it. A Calgary hospital recorded 75 percent reductions in discomfort monitoring patients using it, while another at Stanford in the US had similar results when using VR to distract children from receiving previously distressing procedures.
Ashour helped introduce VR to Saudi hospitals last year.
“I always believed every human has a purpose and a mission in this life, we all have talent within us, the challenge is how we develop such a talent. Not to reinvent the wheel and share someone else’s work, but to develop it. VR was invented for entertainment mostly, but such technology can enhance the patient’s quality of life at a low cost,” he said.
The target patients are children and those in palliative care, receiving procedures as simple as a vaccination, or as painful as resetting bones and applying casts.
“I’ve developed and gained more knowledge by merging engineering with medicine. I got my fellowship in medicine to speak the same language as physicians, to develop a solid medical simulation-training program in the Kingdom. Since 2016 I’ve developed several applications involving VR and alternative reality to help patients,” Ashour added.
VR technology in medicine has also been implemented in radiotherapy, CT scans, MRIs, physiotherapy and psychology. This progress hasn’t been without problems, however.
“Introducing such a new technology or concept to be used to replace a previous technique is challenging, especially in the medical field. Experiments must be completed before an idea can be distributed, that sometimes takes more than 10 years,” said Ashour.
“The idea was to engage engineers and physicians to introduce such a modern technology to enhance patient quality of life, and maximize cost efficiency. We have developed more than 10 virtual environments for both medical training purposes, and to improve medical outcomes.”