A scientist used by Johnson & Johnson several times since 2017 as a litigation expert to defend against claims that the talc used in J&J’s products was contaminated with asbestos, runs the laboratory that found asbestos in one lot of now-recalled bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder, according to a Reuters report.
Andreas Saldivar is the laboratory director of AMA Analytical Services, Inc., a private Maryland-based lab that is under contract with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test talc-based cosmetics for asbestos contamination. He testified in a May 2018 deposition that he tested J&J talc for asbestos and found none.
However, last September, while testing unmarked samples of talc-based cosmetics for the FDA, he found traces of asbestos in one sample of baby powder. That sample was later identified as Johnson’s Baby Powder. His findings led to a recall of more than 30,000 bottles of J&J baby powder, and prompted several national retailers – including Walmart, Target and CVS – to pull all 22-ounce bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder as a precaution.
Richard Ausness, a University of Kentucky law professor specializing in product liability, told Reuters that “I have never heard of anything like this,” referring to Saldivar’s predicament. “This is bad news for J&J. The plaintiffs are clearly going to say this lab director worked for J&J for years, and he found asbestos so there must be asbestos there.”
J&J is raising concerns about the integrity of the tested sample despite the FDA’s posting of Saldivar’s 16-page report in which six chrysotile asbestos fibers were found in a sample weighing less than a gram. Considering the amount of asbestos found in such a small sample size, testing experts said there could be millions of fibers per gram.
Beasley Allen lawyers Ted Meadows and Leigh O’Dell are heading up the team handling claims of ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder use for feminine hygiene. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma; as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma.