Johnson & Johnson is no stranger to controversy and class-action lawsuits for product defects. Many have accused the company of knowingly selling baby powder and related products that contain harmful traces of asbestos, with plaintiffs alleging that continued use of these products contributed to their cancer diagnoses. The company has long denied any wrongdoing, but now, even one of their own experts has called these products into question in a new study.
In 2018, Johnson & Johnson hired laboratory director Andreas Salvidar to serve as their litigation expert and defend them against claims that their products contained cancer-causing asbestos. Salvidar testified that research on Johnson’s Baby Powder that he conducted for the FDA in 2010 found no traces of asbestos, testimony that the company has leaned on in defending its reputation.
However, in 2020, Salvidar began testing products for the FDA once again, and in September of 2020, his testing identified asbestos in an unmarked sample of talcum powder later identified as Johnson’s Baby Powder.
Johnson & Johnson is now in the difficult position of needing to discredit an expert whose testimony they have relied on in their defense. They responded to the news of Salvidar’s results by saying that testing by other labs found no asbestos in the same bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder.
Meanwhile, the FDA issued a statement saying that they stood by the results of the test. Officials noted that because asbestos is not uniformly distributed in talc, it’s entirely possible that it won’t appear in every test or that different testing methods might yield different results.
It’s difficult for consumers and plaintiffs in cancer cases to trust a company that asked them to trust their expert when the company itself may not want to trust this expert’s work. Already, this development has been brought up in at least one trial, with the result that Johnson & Johnson moved quickly to resolve the case with a confidential settlement.
Anyone who is involved in or considering filing a talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson should consult a knowledgeable attorney to see how this latest development may affect their case.