The Method of Asbestos Testing May Prove Johnson & Johnson's Negligence
The Liquid Separation Method of Asbestos testing can find the proverbial needle in the haystack when searching for smaller quantities of asbestos in talc samples
Friday, May 10, 2019 - Patricia Schmitz is one of the thousands of women that are suing Johnson & Johnson claiming that the repeated and prolonged use of Johnson's Baby Powder caused their mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer of the linings of the lungs and the signature disease of asbestos contamination. Breathing or otherwise inhaling asbestos fibers causes microscopic lacerations in the outer sheathing of the lungs and inelastic scar tissue gradually develops hindering the victim's ability to breath. Mesothelioma is a progressively more debilitating and painful disease where a patient gradually literally suffocates to death.
The Northern California Record recently reported that internal Johnson & Johnson executive memos clearly show that the company knew that there were high levels of asbestos in their talc supply used in manufacturing Johnson's Baby Powder as far back as the early 1970s and that the company was concerned about the future of its iconic brand of baby powder. National Talcum powder asbestos cancer lawyers have vast expertise in handling claims of individuals against large, billion dollar corporate empires.
At the core of the company's concern is the new method of testing for asbestos (liquid separation method) that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was contemplating changing to and the reaction that the JNJ executives had in response to the proposed change. According to The Record, The plaintiff's attorney cited an internal JNJ memo that called the use of the liquid separation "a disturbing proposal." The memo read: "It looks like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is getting into separation and isolation methods, which will mean new concentration procedures open up new problems with asbestos and talc minerals."
The liquid separation method of testing for asbestos just so happens to be more sensitive and revealing of the presence of smaller quantities of asbestos and is used by plaintiff's expert witness Dr. Steven Luongo to test talc for asbestos. Luongo likens the method to finding a needle in a haystack by removing the hay. What remains are the needles. Dr. Luongo went on to testify that you cannot make a determination that a test sample is asbestos-free, only that one cannot find any using a certain method of testing. It is the method of testing that is in question. If one method finds it, it has found it. Luongo also questioned JNJ's response in the memos to the proposed FDA change in testing "Why do you need to suppress asbestos if it's not in the product?" the Record quotes him as testifying.
Dr. Luongo testified that he found asbestos in 68% of the Johnson's Baby Powder samples he tested and did not find any in 32%, although he stressed that not finding asbestos was not the same as there not being any, only that the testing method did not find it. The scientist also found asbestos in 30 of 38 samples of Cashmere Boutique brand of talcum powder. The talc used in the JNJ samples came from Italy, Vermont, and Korea.