Johnson & Johnson Maintains Powder is Asbestos-Free After Self Testing — Meanwhile Hawaii Resident Files Suit

close up of hands with baby powder on them

After its own third party investigation, Johnson & Johnson once again asserts that its baby powder does not contain deadly asbestos.

A 64-year-old Australian woman who lives in Hawaii doesn’t agree.

The Australian equine chiropractor filed a civil lawsuit last month alleging her use of talcum powder produced by Johnson & Johnson led to her diagnosis of the deadly cancer mesothelioma.

She not only used the powder on herself but also when caring for her horses. The avid equestrian and show rider follows over 16,000 others who claim that Johnson’s Baby Powder caused their cancer.

What Is the Talc and Asbestos Connection?

Both talc and asbestos are naturally occurring minerals found deep within the earth.

Oftentimes, the two are discovered in close proximity to each other in mining operations, which sometimes results in talc and asbestos intermixing. This can cause the benign substance (talc) to be contaminated by the lethal carcinogenic substance asbestos.

Johnson & Johnson Tries to Override FDA Findings

In October, Johnson & Johnson recalled around 33,000 bottles of baby powder in the U.S. after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported trace amounts of lethal asbestos in samples taken from a bottle purchased online.

Since then, the hygiene product conglomerate took matters into its own hand and ordered its own testing.

Reuters reported that 155 tests were conducted by two different third-party labs hired by Johnson & Johnson. Researchers executed four different testing methods accessing powder samples from the same online bottle of talc that the FDA’s lab used in their testing for asbestos.

The regulatory agency stands by its earlier findings, though, explaining the differing results from the fact that contaminants like asbestos are not uniformly dispersed throughout the talcum powder. They added that there is no standard test for asbestos in talc.

Johnson & Johnson claims the FDA’s findings resulted from either test sample contamination and/or analyst error at the lab.

Mesothelioma Victims Not Swayed by Johnson & Johnson’s Claims

After years of using Johnson’s Baby Powder — and now living with lung cancer that causes her to lose her breath quickly — no test will convince the Hawaiian resident that the company isn’t culpable.

After her initial diagnosis, the doctor ordered four rounds of chemotherapy, of which she said she barely survived the third one.

“It nearly killed me,” she said explaining that the treatment took a huge toll on her heart and kidneys and significantly reduced her platelet and red blood cell count.

Johnson & Johnson Challenges Its Own Expert

While the health-care giant invalidates the FDA’s test results, it may be disparaging one of its own.

Andreas Saldivar has worked as a key paid expert witness for Johnson & Johnson in its asbestos litigation since 2017. Saldivar serves as the laboratory director at Analytical Services Inc., a private Maryland lab. This same lab conducted the experiments for the FDA this year, finding asbestos in an unmarked sample later identified as Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Other Mesothelioma Lawsuits Award Plaintiffs Millions

As recent as May, a New York woman won a $300 million suit from the 124-year-old company long trusted for its hygiene products.

The woman, 66, also believes her deadly mesothelioma diagnosis came as a result of her use of Johnson’s Baby Powder. A New York State jury agreed.

“With this verdict, yet another jury has rejected [Johnson & Johnson’s] misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos,” said the lead trial attorney in the New York case.

The attorney contends Johnson & Johnson has sought to cover up what they’ve known for decades — that their famous baby powder, often used on infants, contains toxic asbestos.

Johnson & Johnson is appealing the verdict.

Becker’s legal team notes that Johnson & Johnson has been ferociously combating each case in court, but the recent FDA findings make that more difficult, even with their own recent testing.

Hawaii Resident Unable to Work and Wants Compensation

The Australian native’s attorneys won’t release the dollar amount their client is seeking, but say she’s “been forced to pay a terrible cost and compensation…should be something that’s substantial and significant.”

After all, they contend that Johnson & Johnson failed to pull its powder off the market because “they were concerned with making money.”

Author:Beth Swantek

Contributing Author at the Mesothelioma Justice Center

Beth Swantek

Beth Swantek has been writing about the dangers of asbestos since 2013. Beth served as a media professional for over 30 years and began her career as a broadcast journalist. After her daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury at birth, Beth has devoted her life to helping men and women experiencing deep loss — such as those living with mesothelioma.

Last modified: January 21, 2020

View 5 Sources
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