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Johnson & Johnson says 15 tests show no asbestos in baby powder

Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday that 15 new tests from the same bottle of Johnson's Baby Powder previously tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found no asbestos in the product. An additional 48 new laboratory tests of samples from Johnson's Baby Powder recalled earlier this month also confirmed the product doesn't contain asbestos, the company added.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson rose 2.7% in after-hours trading. The stock has lost more than 8% of its value during the past six months amid mounting concerns about whether its Baby Powder contains the cancer-causing mineral.

Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of Baby Powder after regulators found trace amounts of asbestos in a single bottle purchased online. The recall prompted retailers including CVS, Rite Aid and Walmart to halt sales of 22-ounce bottles of the product.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company's latest announcement reiterates its previous claims that there is no science to back alleged links between its powder and cancer.

"These tests were conducted by two third-party laboratories as part of the company's ongoing testing and investigation," the company said in a news release.

J&J said it hired the laboratories to test the recalled lot of Baby Powder. One of the labs changed its usual protocol by testing in an auxiliary room, where several samples tested positive for asbestos — but J&J said it was discovered that a portable air conditioner in the auxiliary room was contaminated with asbestos. Samples tested in the lab's standard room didn't test positive for asbestos.

"This finding underscores the importance of investigating any positive test result," Johnson & Johnson said. "Even when careful safeguards are followed, asbestos contamination may be introduced during sample division, storage, preparation and analysis."

The company's statement is its latest in response to thousands of lawsuits claiming the talc-based powder contains asbestos. Last year, a jury awarded $4.7 billion in total damages to 22 women and their families after they claimed asbestos in the talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer. J&J is appealing the judgement and has won several other court cases alleging liability and damages.

J&J is also facing securities lawsuits claiming it failed to disclose the alleged asbestos contamination in its baby powder, leading to billions in financial losses for investors from drops in the price of J&J's stock.

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