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Expert Witnesses at FDA Hearing Highlight the Need for New, Consistent Standards for Measuring Asbestos in Cosmetic Talc Products

Beasley Allen's Leigh O'Dell explains rationale to include fibrous talc as a covered mineral in any revised federal testing protocols

SILVER SPRING, Md., Feb. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- On Feb. 4, the Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting to hear from consumer advocates, industry representatives and testing experts regarding the testing methods used to detect asbestos in talcum powder and cosmetic products containing talc. The meeting marked the first time in 50 years that the FDA has publicly examined its cosmetic testing protocols. The majority of the more than 20 individuals appearing in the public comment portion of the meeting spoke to the need for the agency to heighten requirements for consistent testing, terminology and regulatory criteria.

Leigh O'Dell, an attorney with the law firm of Beasley Allen, spoke on behalf of clients she represents who suffer from ovarian cancer and mesothelioma from extended use of talcum powder, such as Johnson's Baby Powder. Ms. O'Dell is co-lead counsel of the plaintiffs' steering committee for the ovarian cancer multidistrict litigation (MDL).

"Fibrous talc is not asbestos, but it is a deleterious, cancer-causing elongated mineral fiber that should be included in all testing protocols," said Ms. O'Dell. "The FDA should require that cosmetics, including talcum powder, be tested for talc fibers."

"The identification of fibers should be based not on academic, geological definitions but the health effects that fibers have in the human body," said Ms. O'Dell.  "Imaging technology and techniques from the 1960s are outdated and incapable of detecting microscopic fibers of asbestos and similar carcinogens found in cosmetic talc and should be replaced with transmission electron microscopy and other more accurate and sensitive testing protocols. These safety regulations must be upgraded and standardized to protect public health."

Deborah Giannecchini and Marvin Salter, two of Ms. O'Dell's clients, also testified about their personal experiences with ovarian cancer caused by talcum powder. Ms. Giannecchini is an ovarian cancer survivor, while Mr. Salter's mother died from the disease in 2015.

Representatives of other organizations providing public comments during the hearing included the National Women's Health Network, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, the National Center for Health Research and the Environmental Working Group. Public input will remain open until early March, and a final report is expected from the FDA later this year.

Media Contact:
Barry Pound



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SOURCE Beasley Allen Law Firm