The news continues to get worse for pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson this month after an analysis by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that one lot of Baby Powder produced in 2018 was contaminated with asbestos fibers, prompting a recall of 33,000 bottles of the product. The analysis that discovered the asbestos in Baby Powder was conducted on behalf of the FDA by an independent laboratory run by a scientist who Johnson & Johnson has hired as an expert witness in talcum powder cancer lawsuits against the company.
That paid witness is none other than Andreas Saldivar, laboratory director of AMA Analytical Services Inc, who has served as a litigation expert on several occasions for Johnson & Johnson since 2017 in cases brought by plaintiffs who claimed they developed various forms of cancer after years of using the company’s talc-based products. In May 2018, Saldivar testified in a deposition on behalf of Johnson & Johnson and stated that testing he performed on behalf of the FDA back in 2010 showed no evidence that Baby Powder contained asbestos fibers.
In 2019, Saldivar’s lab again began testing talcum powder on behalf of the FDA and in September it tested Baby Powder samples sent to it by federal safety regulators. The testing now presents a serious challenge to Johnson & Johnson of how to discredit a single positive test for asbestos while still maintaining the integrity of one of its expert witnesses. It remains unclear how this news will affect Johnson & Johnson’s litigation efforts moving forward, including whether the company will be more likely to settle the thousands of cases pending in state and federal courts.