Civil rights attorney Ben Crump filed a lawsuit earlier this week alleging that Johnson & Johnson targeted sales of talcum power products to Black women, knowing that it could cause ovarian cancer.
Crump is filing the lawsuit on behalf of the National Council of Negro Women, a nonprofit that advocates for Black women and their families.
"Black women have always been the backbone of this country, standing up for everyone, but receiving the least amount of respect," Crump said in a press conference. "Well, it is time that we stand up for Black women."
Crump said that for years, Johnson & Johnson marketed and sold talc-based products as safe for consumers and specifically targeted Black women in advertisements.
“Internal documents demonstrate that J&J targeted those advertisements to Black women, knowing that Black women were more likely to use the powder products and to use them regularly. These talc Powder Products were not safe, however,” read the complaint obtained by CBS News. “We now know what J&J knew long before it pulled its talc-based Powder Products from the market—that J&J’s Powder Products can cause ovarian cancer.”
Johnson & Johnson denied the allegations, telling CBS News that their marketing campaigns are “multicultural and inclusive.”
The company was ordered to pay more than $2 billion last year to plaintiffs who accused the company of knowingly selling talc products with cancer-causing ingredients. After that lawsuit, the company stopped selling talc-based baby powder and said it was due to reduced demand and misinformation about the product.
"The accusations being made against our company are false, and the idea that our Company would purposefully and systematically target a community with bad intentions is unreasonable and absurd," said a statement CBS News received from Johnson & Johnson.
According to CBS News, a government-led study with data from more than 250,000 women found no strong evidence that Johnson & Johnson talc-based products caused cancer; however, the study’s lead author Katie O’Brien said the findings were “ambiguous.”
"We firmly stand behind the safety of our product and the ways in which we communicate with our customers," the company told CBS News, noting that more information can be found at www.FactsAboutTalc.com.