A major executive for Johnson & Johnson gave testimony in the trial of a terminal plaintiff who claims that the company’s talcum powder products caused their cancer. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ed Kuffner M.D., testified extensively about how the company issued a recall of their talc products after a U.S. FDA investigation found asbestos in the samples of talc. 

The trial concerns plaintiff Emory Hernandez (24), who was diagnosed in 2022 with malignant pericardial mesothelioma, a disease with strong ties to asbestos contamination. Talc and asbestos form under similar conditions, so it is very possible for cross-contamination to occur. While most talc cases have been paused pending the outcome of the bankruptcy proceeding of J&J’s subsidiary LTL Management, Hernandez’s case has been allowed to proceed because the plaintiff is expected to pass away soon. 

Dr. Kuffner was called to the stand to give a glimpse into the internal workings of J&J during the 2019 recall, Law360 writes. On October 16, 2019, an FDA official named Ruark Lanham sent news to J&J that they had found chrysotile asbestos in a sample of the company’s product.  

According to Kuffner, the entire company immediately sprung into action to respond to the FDA’s report. The FDA did suggest a recall in “one of the first calls” but a recall was not implemented by the company until October 18, 2019. 

While the official announcement behind the recall stated that the product was being removed out of an abundance of caution, Dr. Kuffner employed rhetoric to avoid confirming the validity of the FDA’s testing or the legitimacy of the recall. When asked whether he knew that the lab used by the FDA, AMA, had never retracted its findings, Dr. Kuffner said, “That’s what they believe they found.” When the plaintiff’s attorney pressed on whether Kuffner was aware that the FDA has not retracted its findings, he responded, “That’s what FDA believes.”

In the course of the cross-examination, Kuffner also stated that he believed that J&J never tested any of the 38,000 recalled bottles of talcum powder. 

If you or a loved one have developed mesothelioma or ovarian cancer through exposure to contaminated talcum powder, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Fill out a free case review to see if your case qualifies.