Days after an Illinois judge held them in contempt of court, Johnson & Johnson Company received more bad news, as a new complaint was filed against them on behalf of Black women who’d used their product and were later diagnosed with mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases. The suit, filed on behalf of the National Council of Negro Women, accuses the company of decades of “knowingly deceptive marketing to Black women” despite internal doubts regarding the product’s safety.
Internal Memos Reveal Concerns About Talc, Mesothelioma, and Other Diseases
According to this and other lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson employees expressed misgivings that the talc in their products might cause mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and other malignancies, yet the company continued to market them to the public. While other claims have focused on the negligence involved in failing to warn of their baby powder’s potential for damage, the National Council of Negro Women has called attention to the company’s intentional marketing targeting a demographic whose existing economic and social disadvantages made it more difficult to get and seek treatment once illness set in. Black women are historically underinsured and receive treatment when their illnesses are further advanced and more difficult to treat.
Company’s Advertising Targeted Black Women Despite Mesothelioma and Ovarian Cancer Risk
Internal memos included in the lawsuit’s supporting documents revealed that Johnson & Johnson recognized the “opportunities to grow the franchise” among black women despite “negative publicity from the health community on talc.” The combination of these two separate issues makes clear that the company was aware of concerns about their product’s role in causing cancers like malignant mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, yet continued to push the product on the Black community.
The lawsuit cites several marketing efforts that Johnson & Johnson directed towards Black women, including promotions at churches, beauty salons and barbershops, and at concerts. The efforts escalated in 2000 with discussion of recruiting Aretha Franklin or Patti LaBelle as spokeswomen, and again in 2010 with a radio campaign specifically targeting Southern women and “skewing African American.” Many internal company documents about mesothelioma and ovarian cancer predated these campaigns.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, or another asbestos-related disease, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can get you the information that you need. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.