Johnson & Johnson claims the same baby powder bottle the FDA found asbestos in tested NEGATIVE in 15 new tests – but US regulators stand by their results that triggered a national recall
- On Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson said it has done 15 new tests of the same baby powder bottle that the FDA found asbestos in
- It says all the tests were negative but has left the recall of 33,000 bottles of the product in place
- Asbestos is known to cause cancers including mesothelioma and its presence in baby powder is at the center of over 15,000 lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson
- FDA officials say they stand by their original findings and that asbestos could be unevenly distributed in the same bottle
Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday that 15 new tests found no asbestos in a bottle of baby powder that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos.
But the FDA is standing firmly by its own test results, the agency told Reuters.
The tests are the latest effort by J&J to prove the safety of its widely used consumer product after a test by the FDA prompted J&J to undertake a nationwide recall of one lot of its Johnson’s Baby Powder – the first time its ever done so over asbestos.
‘They would say the product is free of asbestos based on their testing, and we would say the opposite for that sample,’ said Steve Musser, deputy director for scientific operations in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition.
Johnson & Johnson now claims its done 15 additional tests of the same baby powder bottle that the FDA said was positive for asbestos – and found it’s not. But the FDA stands by its own finding, according to an interview with Reuters
Earlier this month, J&J recalled around 33,000 bottles of baby powder in the United States after the FDA found trace amounts of asbestos in samples taken from a bottle purchased online.
‘Rigorous and third-party testing confirms there is no asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder. We stand by the safety of our product,’ J&J said in a statement.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment on the FDA standing by its test result.
The different test outcomes could have resulted from the fact that contaminants are not uniformly dispersed throughout talc and there is no standard test for asbestos in talc, FDA officials said.
The voluntary recall was limited to one lot of Johnson´s Baby Powder produced and shipped in the United States in 2018, the company said at the time.
That move marked the first time the company recalled its iconic baby powder for possible asbestos contamination, and the first time US regulators have announced a finding of asbestos in the product.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen that has been linked to deadly mesothelioma.
J&J will not reverse the recall of those 22-ounce containers, but its baby powder remains available to consumers in stores, a company spokesman told Reuters.
However, retailers including Walmart, CVS, Target, Walgreens and Rite Aid have all voluntarily pulled the 22-ounce bottles from their store shelves and online markets.
The recall had been the latest blow to the more than 130-year-old U.S. healthcare conglomerate that is facing thousands of lawsuits over a variety of products, including baby powder, opioids, medical devices and the antipsychotic Risperdal.
J&J faces more than 15,000 lawsuits from consumers claiming its talc products, including Johnson´s Baby Powder, caused their cancer.
Just 13 days before announcing its recall, J&J CEO Alex Gorsky gave a deposition in one such lawsuit, swearing under oath that the company’s baby powder was safe and asbestos-free.
WHAT IS MESOTHELIOMA?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body’s organs. It’s usually linked to asbestos exposure.
It mainly affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), although it can also affect the lining of the tummy (peritoneal mesothelioma), heart or testicles.
More than 2,600 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 60-80 and men are affected more commonly than women.
Unfortunately it’s rarely possible to cure mesothelioma, although treatment can help control the symptoms.
The symptoms of mesothelioma tend to develop gradually over time. They typically don’t appear until several decades after exposure to asbestos.
Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, a group of minerals made of microscopic fibres that used to be widely used in construction.
These tiny fibres can easily get in the lungs, where they get stuck, damaging the lungs over time. It usually takes a while for this to cause any obvious problems, with mesothelioma typically developing more than 20 years after exposure to asbestos.
The use of asbestos was completely banned in 1999, so the risk of exposure is much lower nowadays. However, materials containing asbestos are still found in many older buildings.
Source: NHS Choices