Johnson & Johnson has been accused in a newly filed lawsuit of purposely marketing its talcum-based powder to black women despite internal concerns that the product could be harmful, reports said.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the National Council of Negro Women, The New York Times reported. The paper said the lawsuit claims that the company was aware that some of its products cause cancer.
Janice Mathis, the executive director of the NCNW, said in a statement, according to NPR:
“This company, through its words and images, told Black women that we were offensive in our natural state and needed to use their products to stay fresh. Generations of Black women believed them and made it our daily practice to use their products in ways that put us at risk of cancer—and we taught our daughters to do the same. Shame on Johnson and Johnson.”
The suit—citing an internal memo from 1992—claimed that the company saw opportunities to sell its products to the black community while there was “negative publicity from the health community on talc.”
The company put $4 billion aside last year as it faces more than 25,000 lawsuits that claimed its talc product caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, the Times reported. The report said some of the suits claim that talc can be contaminated with asbestos during the mining process.
The company said in a statement to the paper that its products were safe, and the suggestion that it would “purposefully and systematically target a community with bad intentions is unreasonable and absurd.”
The Times pointed out that the company has won some cases and lost others. The company said it would pull its baby powder due to lack of sales in North America, the report said.
Reuters reported that J&J was considering creating a new business to offload some of its liability tied to these lawsuits and then seek bankruptcy protection. The report said that the result would be lower payouts for cases that have not been settled.
TRENDPOST: Prior to the action taken by the National Council of Negro Women, Johnson & Johnson was facing more than 21,800 lawsuits against it over allegations that asbestos is in its talcum powder products. And back in June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Johnson & Johnson appeal seeking to undo a $2.1 billion damages award that its baby powder caused women to develop ovarian cancer.
And, as we have reported, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $230 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the State of New York, which, along with 14 other states, has reached a settlement with Purdue Pharma LP, the maker of OxyContin, which is a controlled-release form of oxycodone, another semi-synthetic opioid.