Civil rights attorney Ben Crump announced this week he filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, alleging the company targeted Black women with its sales of baby powder that allegedly caused cancer.
Representing the National Council of Negro Women, Mr. Crump said the company’s talcum-based baby powder has links to ovarian cancer and it was specifically marketed to Black women.
“It is about the lives of our grandmothers, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our nieces and our wives and how they were cynically targeted by Johnson & Johnson, this multi-billion dollar corporation,” Mr. Crump, best known for representing the family of George Floyd, said at a press conference.
The lawsuit seeks to have Black women informed about the risk of the product and its alleged connection to ovarian cancer.
“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,” said Janice Mathis, executive director of NCNW. “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.”
A spokesperson from Johnson & Johnson said the accusations are false.
“The idea that our Company would purposefully and systematically target a community with bad intentions is unreasonable and absurd. Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, and our campaigns are multicultural and inclusive. We firmly stand behind the safety of our product,” the spokesperson said.
Decades of testing and medical analysis have confirmed the products are safe, don’t contain asbestos and do not cause cancer, the company noted.
“We empathize with anyone suffering from cancer and understand that people are looking for answers. We believe those answers can be better understood through science,” the spokesperson said.
The Missouri Supreme Court last year upheld a ruling against Johnson & Johnson for roughly $2 billion over allegations its baby powder caused cancer.
The company sought to overturn the ruling at the Supreme Court, but the justices declined last month to hear the case.
Johnson & Johnson stopped selling the baby powder in the U.S. in 2020 after facing thousands of lawsuits over what it claims is misinformation.