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Reuters Report Claims Johnson & Johnson Targeted Minority Women as Sales of Asbestos-Contaminated Talc Products Declined

A recent report by Reuters news appears to suggest that while pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the risk of asbestos contamination in its talc-based products, the company continued to market and specifically target female minority communities. The revelations come after Johnson & Johnson settled two asbestos cancer lawsuits, one in Oklahoma and the other in California, during the middle of trial and settled another in New York just two-weeks before the start of proceedings.

According to the report, the “right place” to focus, according to a 2006 internal J&J marketing presentation, was “under-developed geographical areas with hot weather, and higher AA population,” the “AA” referring to African-Americans. Reuters also points out that Johnson & Johnson marketing executives sought to target overweight women, going as far as to request a significant increase in marketing funds over previous years to target overweight persons.

Since the 1970s, adults have been the main consumers of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products after pediatricians began to warn of the dangers to infants who inhale talc. By the mid-2000s, adults have accounted for over 90% of Baby Powder sales after Johnson & Johnson targeted its marketing efforts at a variety of demographics, including teens, the elderly, minority, and overweight females.

Sold since 1894 and accounting for less than 1% of Johnson & Johnson’s total sales, Baby Powder now accounts for the overwhelming majority of an estimated 13,000 claims across the country who claim they developed serious health conditions as a result of asbestos contamination in the product. In 2018, juries awarded over $5 billion in total compensation to dozens of women who claim they developed either ovarian cancer or mesothelioma from decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products.

In a December 2018 report, Reuters detailed allegations that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the risk of asbestos contaminated talc making its way into hygiene products used daily by women and children. That report was based on thousands of internal company documents which came to light the wake of several high profile asbestos cancer trials against Johnson & Johnson in which juries handed down substantial compensation to the plaintiffs.

One of the most serious health conditions associated with asbestos exposure through talc is developing mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer which commonly affects thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs like the heart, lungs, and abdomen. Although talc itself does not contain asbestos, the two are both naturally occurring minerals and are often found in deposits side by side one another.

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 If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.




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