Thursday, June 17, 2010
Lawsuit Proceeds on Johnson & Johnson's Baby Shampoo
U.S. District Court Judge Dennis Cavanaugh based his decision to let the lawsuit proceed on the presence of a single chemical ingredient found in the shampoo: methylene chloride, which is banned by the Food and Drug Administration for use in cosmetics.
The lawsuit also alleges WalMart’s Equate Tearless Baby Wash includes the same cancer-causing chemicals.
Lawyers for WalMart and Johnson & Johnson, which is based in New Brunswick, had sought to dismiss the suit, arguing the consumers lacked standing to sue because the product failed to cause an injury or that the shampoo failed to clean hair.
In a letter last May to Johnson & Johnson’s Chief Executive Officer William Weldon, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of consumer, health and environmental groups, asked the company to reformulate the baby shampoo as well as some of its other personal care products.
In addition to noting methylene chloride, the letter — and the ensuing lawsuit — also identified formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane as being in the baby shampoo.
At the time the coalition sent its letter to Weldon, the company said the chemical compounds existed in "trace levels’’ that could result from processes that make the baby shampoo gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth. "Many regulatory agencies around the world consider these trace levels safe,’’ Johnson & Johnson spokesman Bill Price told the Associated Press at the time.
Formaldehyde accumulates in the body. Even "safe trace levels" add up over time. The body cannot get rid of formaldehyde on its own!
Ira Loss, an analyst who follows the pharmaceutical industry, said it is not unusual for companies to reformulate their products and then to market them as new and improved.