Report Finds Johnson and Johnson Knowingly Marketed ‘Potentially Harmful’ Products to African-American Women

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A New Jersey jury cleared pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson in March of liability following a lawsuit by a man who alleged asbestos in the company’s talc-based products caused his mesothelioma. But Reuters reported Tuesday that the company continued to aggressively market its talc-based products for years, even after the World Health Organization classified such products as “possibly carcinogenic.”

Reuters reports Johnson and Johnson ignored warning labels on its shipments from talc supplier Luzenac America Inc and launched a campaign that specifically targeted African-American and overweight women. An internal Johnson and Johnson 2006 marketing presentation reportedly said the “right” places to focus the campaign were “under developed geographical areas with hot weather and higher AA population,” with the AA referring to African-American. Johnson and Johnson reportedly proceeded to distribute baby powder, which is a talc-based product, through churches and beauty salons in African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods. It also reportedly ran print and digital advertisements with Weight Watchers.

A lawsuit filed in Mississippi in 2014 alleges Johnson and Johnson failed to warn consumers of its products’ health risks and used a “racially targeted strategy” to continue its sales, which the company denies. In response to Reuters‘ questioning, a Johnson and Johnson spokesperson said suggesting the company “targeted a particular group with a potentially harmful product is incredibly offensive and patently false.”

Read the full investigation at Reuters.

SOURCE: The Week, Tim O’Donnell