The House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform recently held a hearing examining health risks related to the use of talcum powder products containing asbestos, as well as the detection methods used to keep the public safe. The hearing comes on the heels of news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced had detected asbestos in one lot of pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and that the company would voluntarily recall 33,000 bottles of the product.
Johnson & Johnson currently faces an estimated 15,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country brought by plaintiffs claiming their serious medical conditions, including various forms of cancer, were caused by decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. Many of those lawsuits allege the plaintiffs developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer directly linked with exposure to microscopic asbestos fibers.
While talc itself does not contain asbestos, the two are both naturally occurring minerals which can often be found side by side one another, creating the possibility of cross contamination if precautions are not taken to protect innocent consumers. Despite federal laws requiring talc products to be asbestos-free, strong evidence exists that Johnson & Johnson continued to produce talc-based products that tested positive for asbestos.
Of particular contention in asbestos talcum powder lawsuits is the manner in which Johnson & Johnson conducted asbestos testing in its talcum powder products, with many experts criticizing the methods used by the company. According to the Oversight Committee, internal Johnson & Johnson documents recommended that the company upgrade its scrutiny of talc safety procedures given that the company knew for decades about the risks of asbestos contamination in its talc-based products.
Industry methods for detecting asbestos in talc primarily involve two testing methods. Either polarized light microscopy (PLM), or the use of an analytical transmission electron microscope (ATEM). Both PLM and ATEM have been criticized for lacking proper sensitivity to detect very low levels of asbestos contamination. Laboratories that both the cosmetics industry and FDA contract with to do asbestos detection in talc almost entirely rely upon one of these methods.
Thus far, state and federal juries across the country have handed down a combined total of over $5 billion in compensation to dozens of victims claiming they developed cancer from using Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder or Shower to Shower. Even in the face of these tremendous verdicts, Johnson & Johnson continues to deny, delay, and defend against these legal actions brought by innocent consumers who used Baby Powder without ever knowing of the health risks.
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If you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.