Mesothelioma Experts Applaud FDA Panel’s New Asbestos Testing Recommendations

In the shadow of thousands of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer lawsuits currently pending against cosmetic talc sellers and manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson, a panel of U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientific experts have put forward new standards for testing asbestos in cosmetic products. The more strenuous testing that they are suggesting is a departure from the previously lax regulations that have long existed. They will be reviewed by the FDA on February 4th.

Panel Recommends Counting Small Particles 

At issue is whether microscopic particles found in talc-based products should be counted as asbestos, the carcinogenic material that is known to cause malignant mesothelioma and other cancers. The cosmetic industry has long argued that these tiny particles should not be considered asbestos contamination, while public health authorities and cancer advocates have argued that they should be, because they can cause cancer. For the first time, the recommendations that the panel is sending to the FDA agrees with those advocates.

While cosmetic industry experts have argued that the small particles are not the same as the asbestos that is used and seen in industrial settings, and which has caused so much known harm, the expert panel’s summary rejected that position, saying that because the small particles cause “similar pathological outcomes, the distinction is irrelevant.”  They pointed to previously published documentation from the World Health Organization and others that agree with this position, and are calling for cosmetic products to be subject to more sensitive testing methods.

FDA Hearing Scheduled for February 4th

The more stringent testing that the panel has prepared will be considered by the FDA on February 4th. The methods that are currently in use have not been questioned or revisited for more than fifty years, largely at the behest of the cosmetics industry. The experts that put forward the new testing recommendations come from several diverse government agencies, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Of particular interest to mesothelioma advocates is the fact that the panel of experts that reached this conclusion “worked independently and has not solicited recommendations from cosmetic manufacturers, industry groups or any other non-governmental groups” according to a statement put forward by the FDA. This is in stark contrast to a controversial and widely criticized meeting that was held in 2018 that was largely made up of industry representatives, with minimal representation from scientists.

Victims of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma prevention advocates will be watching closely to see how the FDA decides on February 4th. In the meantime, if you are a mesothelioma patient and you need access to resources to help you deal with your disease, we can help. Contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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