Krishnamoorthi to FDA: Adopt All Subcommittee Recommendations on Testing Consumer Products For Asbestos

Mar 3, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Mar. 3, 2020)—Today, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encouraging it to adopt the most stringent testing methods to detect carcinogenic asbestos in consumer talc-based products.

On December 10, 2019, Chairman Krishnamoorthi held a hearing on testing standards for asbestos in consumer talc products.  Within one month of the hearing, FDA announced that it would hold an open meeting on that topic.

FDA’s preliminary recommendations by the Interagency Working Group on Asbestos in Consumer Products adopted all but one of the testing improvements that were highlighted in the Subcommittee’s December hearing.  However, the Preliminary Recommendations fail to include one key reform:  requiring testing samples to be prepared using the heavy liquid–separation method (HLS).  HLS separates and removes the bulk of talc, leaving behind asbestos particles so that they are easy to identify in samples.  Using HLS, 65% of Johnson & Johnson samples of talc products sold between the 1940s and the present have reportedly tested positive for asbestos.

“For decades, manufacturers of talc products have reported negative asbestos tests by employing testing methods that were not sensitive enough to detect harmful amounts of asbestos in their products and by using sample-preparation methods that allowed dangerous asbestos particles to hide undetected,” Krishnamoorthi wrote.  “These practices have allowed companies to sell asbestos-containing products to unknowing consumers for decades.”

On October 18, 2019, FDA announced that it had detected asbestos in one lot of Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder, and the company recalled nearly 33,000 bottles of baby powder in the United States.

After the recall, Johnson & Johnson made multiple claims in the media attacking the integrity and accuracy of FDA’s positive test results.  After paying two labs to conduct additional tests, the company reported that none of the tests it commissioned detected asbestos.  However, one of Johnson & Johnson’s paid labs did find asbestos in the product.

“FDA must use the most sensitive testing method to detect carcinogenic asbestos in consumer talc-based products,” Krishnamoorthi wrote.  “It should no longer use the preferred detection methods of Johnson & Johnson.  The Subcommittee hopes that FDA will take this necessary step by adopting the Preliminary Recommendations and adding the requirement to utilize the HLS method of test sample preparation.”

Click here to read today’s letter.

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116th Congress