Johnson & Johnson and Costco Wholesale Corp. have reached a settlement with plaintiffs over the recall of a variety of J&J sunscreen products found to contain benzene, a known human carcinogen. The recall was carried out by J&J voluntarily and affected four of its Neutrogena products and one that carried the Aveeno label.
The issue of sunscreen contamination took center stage this summer after online pharmacy Valisure found traces of the compound in a variety of aerosol sunscreens thanks to its policy of independent testing of the products it sells. After reporting its findings and seeing a complete non-reaction from the FDA, the company publicly petitioned the agency to act on behalf of the Americans it is supposed to be working to protect.
Johnson & Johnson released a statement disavowing any notion of public danger or wrongdoing in the matter while simultaneously acknowledging the recall. “This agreement,” the company said, “which is subject to court approval, is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing…We strongly dispute the merits of these lawsuits and stand behind our position that we marketed our sunscreen products appropriately and responsibly.”
Disavowing and failing to take responsibility for its failures has become the status quo for Johnson & Johnson, as the once revered company has effectively become the poster child for corporate greed in America. Not only under fire for its role in perpetuating and prolonging the opioid crisis in the United States, the company also recently exploited a legal loophole rather than accept responsibility for knowingly selling asbestos-laden talc products for decades on end. In a move known as a ‘Texas two-step’ bankruptcy, J&J created a new company and transferred all of its talc-asbestos liability to the new company’s books. The new company was then immediately declared bankrupt, much like Johnson & Johnson’s moral standing.