Investing.com – Health care stocks were struggling in midday trading a Reuters report that Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) knew for decades that talcum baby powder contained asbestos pushed that major sector component lower.
The consumer goods and medical company slumped about 7%, wiping off $24 billion from its market capitalization, after Reuters reported that it knew about the presence of asbestos as early as 1971 and hired ghostwriters to redraft studies of its baby powder.
“Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory, in that it apparently has spanned over 40 years, orchestrated among generations of global regulators, the world’s foremost scientists and universities, leading independent labs, and J&J employees themselves,” the company said in a statement.
The company faces around 6,000 lawsuits that allege its talc products cause ovarian cancer.
The S&P 500 Health Care index fell about 1%.
Other health care companies were also down, with Universal Health Services (NYSE:UHS) falling 4.8%, Humana (NYSE:HUM) dipping 2.9% and Cigna (NYSE:CI) decreasing 2.5%.
Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) was also lower, falling 3.7% after Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) downgraded the stock, Reuters reported.