Karabo Mokoena
Content producer
2 minute read
30 Jul 2021
5:20 pm

Black women’s group sues J &J over baby powder

Karabo Mokoena

A recent addition to a long list of lawsuits against the company's talc-based powder.

Black Woman's Group is accusing Johnson & Johnson for falsely marketing their product as safe. Image: iStock

The National Council of Negro Women, a non-profit that aims to advance the quality of life of black women, has filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder.

They claim that Johnson & Johnson “aggressively marketed” their baby powder as an essential product to “maintain freshness and cleanliness.”

This lawsuit comes in light of 25,000 US lawsuits against the company. One of these lawsuits was a case that resulted in Johnson & Johnson being ordered to pay almost $4.7 billion to 22 women who sued the company after alleging that the baby powder caused their ovarian cancer.

A study conducted in 1968 suggested that baby powder is a talc-based powder that can lead to respiratory issues and ovarian cancer.

This particular lawsuit is based on a claim that black women have trusted the product for centuries, using it for their own personal use, and for their children. This trust is in line with how the product was marketed to them.

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“This lawsuit is about the lives of our grandmothers, our mothers, our wives, sisters and daughters – all of whom were cynically targeted by Johnson & Johnson,” the National Council of Negro Women says.

Some have followed the use of baby powder because their grandmothers and mothers also used it.

A July 2019 report by Bloomberg detailed how the Justice Department and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission were investigating Johnson & Johnson due to concerns about alleged asbestos contamination in its baby powder.

A recent Healthline article is also potentially linked to testicular cancer in some cases.

Johnson & Johnson said: “The accusations being made against our company are false, and the idea that our Company would purposefully and systematically target a community with bad intentions is unreasonable and absurd.”

According to CBS News, the group is suing Johnson & Johnson for:

  • Negligence
  • Failure to warn customers of a possible defect in a product
  • Consumer fraud

The amount involved in the litigation is unknown.

“Internal documents demonstrate that J&J targeted those advertisements to Black women, knowing that Black women were more likely to use the powder products and to use them regularly,” the complaint said.