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In July of 2021, news of the Black women’s advocacy group, the National Council of Negro Women, filing a lawsuit to sue Johnson & Johnson took many by surprise. While thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson, there are still millions more people who don’t know about the potentially dangerous and fatal outcomes of using talc-based baby powder.
Products that women should be concerned about including the following:
- J&J Baby Powder (talcum powder)
- Shower to Shower (an off-brand)
Both of the above products are linked to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
The Carlson Law Firm has long documented Johnson & Johnson’s targeting of minority communities to sell its dangerous product talc-based baby powder. Through notes about opportunities and obstacles dated from 1989, J&J made a plan to target Black and Hispanic communities to offset its declining corn starch and talc baby powder sales. In the same memo, the company also mentions that “negative publicity” from “the health community” and “cancer linkage.”
To successfully pull off this campaign, the company instituted media campaigns that included targeting adults in the Hispanic and Black communities. These marketing campaigns came well after internal documents show that the company knew of its product’s link to ovarian cancer.
Who did Johnson & Johnson target?
In the 1970s, pediatricians started warning about the dangers of infants inhaling talc. As a result, adults became crucial to the survival of the brand. By the mid-2000s, adults accounted for 91% of baby powder use. Specifically, promotional campaigns were aimed toward older minority and overweight women.
To reach these women, Johnson & Johnson has made overtly obvious attempts to appeal to Black women through the following ways:
- Beauty Salons
Further, the company even considered signing legendary icons like Patti LaBelle or Aretha Franklin as spokeswomen for the product. In 2010, the company instituted a radio campaign targeted toward “curvy Southern women 18-49 largely skewing African American.”
The pharmaceutical company took advantage of cultural myths about cleanliness and odors in the Black community by dropping off samples of talc-based baby powder at churches and beauty salons in predominantly Black and Hispanic communities.
How does talcum powder lead to cancer?
Scientific research suggests that talcum powder can travel through a woman’s reproductive organs and embed in the walls. When the substance embeds, it irritates the tissues around it leading to mutations that can eventually lead to cancer. The body has difficulty flushing fine particles. As a result, the following cancers have been linked to talcum powder:
- Ovarian Cancer
- Fallopian Tube Cancer
- Uterine Cancer
- Endometrial Cancer
- Mesothelioma (cancer of the lungs in both men and women)
For decades, women have used talcum powder completely unaware of the cancer risks. In short, women who use talcum powder products are 33% more likely to develop ovarian cancer.
Black Women Report Significantly Higher Use of Feminine Hygiene Products
A 2015 study found that 44% of Black women reported talcum powder use, compared to 30% of white women and 29% of Hispanic women.
Relying on cultural norms and myths in Black communities, Johnson & Johnson marketed its dangerous product as a way to help its consumers stay fresh and dry. Its marketing tactics for baby powder took advantage of pervasive cultural myths about cleanliness and odors that persist in the Black community. These myths continue to compel Black women to control body odor at higher rates than other women.
Why does Johnson & Johnson’s targeting of Black women matter?
Black women are the least protected group to many aspects of equality, but this is particularly true and deadly when it comes to healthcare.
As mentioned by Janis Mathis the Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women, Black women historically receive inferior medical care than many of their counterparts. In addition, large swaths of the Black community don’t even have access to medical care that would provide early detection of ovarian cancer and other diseases because of a lack of health insurance.
“… [T]hen add to that a corporation that is intentionally targeting you,” Mathis said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer Black women should watch for
Because such a large percentage of Black women used talcum powder products, it’s important that we are aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. These symptoms include the following:
- Pelvic/abdominal pain
- Trouble eating
- Feeling the need to urinate often
- Upset stomach
- Back pain
- Menstrual changes
If you have any of these symptoms of ovarian cancer that may be linked to talcum powder, visit your doctor right away. A Talcum Powder Lawsuit Lawyer can help you recover medical expenses and lost wages.
What is the NCNW’s reason to sue Johnson & Johnson allege?
The National Council of Negro Women is pursuing a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson because they allege that the company was aware of the risks related to its products. Still, the company specifically targeted Black women through its advertising campaigns and internal memos. In short, according to a press release, they say that this led to “more frequent use of talcum powder by African American consumers.”
J&J’s Response to NCNW
Like many large corporations, when asked about their lack of care for minority communities, Johnson & Johnson was dismissive of the concerns raised by the lawsuit filed by the National Council of Negro Women. The pharmaceutical giant referred to its targeting of Black communities as “unreasonable” and “absurd.” This is in spite of evidence stating otherwise. The company also maintains that its product is safe and does not contain asbestos.
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
The Carlson Law Firm is accepting talcum powder lawsuit clients from all 50 states. If you’ve developed ovarian cancer and have used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, contact us today. We can help you navigate the complex legal system to get the compensation you deserve. Our team can walk you through the process of what it means to sue Johnson & Johnson during your free, no-obligation consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.