J&J says recalled talc had no asbestos, negating its own expert

Nov 03, 2019

Johnson & Johnson said that new testing of the recently recalled batch of baby powder did not show any traces of asbestos.

The drugmaker recently recalled 33,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder as a precaution after regulators found trace amounts of asbestos in a single bottle purchased from an online retailer.

According to J&J, 15 new tests from the same bottle of baby powder previously tested by the U.S. FDA found no asbestos. An additional 48 new laboratory tests of samples from the recalled lot also found no asbestos.

The findings do not come without conflict for the drugmaker, however, as a Reuter's exclusive reported that the private Maryland lab under contract with the FDA that originally found asbestos in a baby powder sample is run by a paid expert witness for J&J. According to Reuters, Andreas Saldivar, lab director of AMA Analytical Services, has served as a litigation expert on several occasions for J&J since 2017 in its defense against plaintiffs’ claims that asbestos in talc caused their cancers.

Now, J&J must discredit the single test result as a mistake, without undermining the reputation and track record of its expert witness.

In an interview with Reuters, FDA officials said they stood by the AMA lab and its results, saying contaminants are not uniformly dispersed throughout talc and different testing methods can yield varying results.

Read the J&J press release