J&J rushed tests of its baby powder, complicating results, review finds

Johnson & Johnson rushed to test its baby powder after the FDA found asbestos in a bottle. However, a Wall Street Journal review of lab reports released by J&J show the company's push for rapid testing complicated the test results. 

J&J recalled the product Oct. 18 after the FDA said testing by AMA Analytical Services, a lab in Lanham, Md., found trace amounts of asbestos in J&J's baby powder. On Oct. 30, J&J said it found no trace of asbestos in follow up tests. 

The WSJ reviewed lab reports of the companies J&J hired to complete the testing and found that RJ Lee Group, a lab in Monroeville, Pa., changed its normal testing practices to meet J&J's quick timeline. 

The lab used a testing room it normally uses to analyze gunshot residue in crime scene investigations to test the baby powder, in addition to a regular testing room. The sample from the regular room found no trace of asbestos, but the room typically reserved for gunshot residue did find trace amounts of asbestos. 

The lab later said the room it uses for gunshot residue was contaminated by an air conditioner, so the baby powder sample tests from that room were unreliable. 

A second lab, Bureau Veritas North America in Kennesaw, Ga., told J&J its preliminary tests found no asbestos, but according to the WSJ it hadn't completed its testing when J&J announced that follow up tests found no trace of asbestos. 

J&J told the WSJ that different samples from the same bottle could produce different results because the contamination may not be uniform. It added that it is continuing to test samples of its baby powder. 

J&J is currently fighting lawsuits from nearly 100,000 plaintiffs that allege the baby powder caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

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