With the end of the calendar year on our collective doorstep, it’s time to reflect on the previous 12 months.
In the world of mesothelioma and asbestos, 2021 was a busy year. A lot of breaking news regarding regulations and advancements for treatment occurred.
In fact, there was so much news about mesothelioma that Mesothelioma Guide’s annual year-in-review article needed to be split into two parts.
Here is part 1, which has five of the top 10 stories from 2021 about mesothelioma and asbestos. These are summarized, with links to the full stories included. Look for part 2 on Thursday.
Johnson & Johnson’s Talc Mesothelioma Saga Continues
Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturing giant responsible for Talc Baby Powder and other talc products, is the center of thousands of cancer lawsuits. The company is accused of exposing users to asbestos, which can contaminate talcum powder in cosmetics like Baby Powder.
Johnson & Johnson stopped manufacturing and selling talc Baby Powder in the United States and Canada in 2020. Now the company is trying to “Texas Two-Step” away from current and future lawsuits. The Texas Two-Step is when a company creates a subsidiary LLC as an attempt to offload legal liabilities to the subsidiary, which immediately files for bankruptcy to block future lawsuits. Johnson & Johnson filed to create a subsidiary called “LTL” to absorb all talc cancer liabilities.
The Texas Two-Step is common in mesothelioma claims and led to the requirement of companies to create asbestos trust funds, a way for companies with bankrupt subsidiaries to continue compensating patients, albeit at smaller amounts.
When Johnson & Johnson tried this maneuver, a North Carolina judge paused the movement along with 35,000 legal claims. The judge moved the case to New Jersey, where Johnson & Johnson headquarters are. The judge paused the claims for 60 days, which is set to expire in mid-January.
No Asbestos Found in Latest FDA Talc Test
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tested talc samples from an assortment of products. The agency tested 50 samples and found no asbestos, a perfect score. In 2020, the FDA found evidence of asbestos fibers in 17% of samples.
This is excellent news for the health and safety of consumers, who may use talc cosmetics or cleaning powders for beauty or skincare. Caution is still recommended and companies are urged to use alternatives to talc for consumer safety.
Mesothelioma Cancer Centers Top Annual Ranking
Many cancer centers with mesothelioma programs were at the top of the U.S. News & World Report hospitals rankings.
The Mayo Clinic, UCLA Medical Center, Johns Hopkins, University of California San Francisco Medical Center, Michigan Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center all made the top 20. All of these top cancer centers feature at least one specialist for either pleural mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma.
Three-Year Follow-Up Excellent for Opdivo and Yervoy
The Checkmate-743 clinical trial led to Opdivo and Yervoy being approved for unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma. The three-year follow-up proves this immunotherapy combination is working tremendously for patients who can’t have surgery.
The three-year survival rate is 23%, which is higher than chemotherapy’s 15% rate. The two-year survival rate is 40% and the median survival for Opdivo and Yervoy is 18.1 months.
Opdivo and Yervoy are immune checkpoint inhibitors, meaning they block specific protein receptors to help the immune system appropriately treat cancer cells as dangerous.
Mesothelioma Patients Face High Rates of Death From COVID-19
A study from Spain revealed people with mesothelioma are at high risk of COVID-19 death.
A hospital in the European country had seven cases of COVID-19 among mesothelioma patients. Five died, with four attributed to COVID complications. Six of the seven were hospitalized.
This data confirms the fears of COVID-19 for mesothelioma patients. The combination could have a deadly effect on respiratory functioning.