Spray Sunscreen Lawsuit Settlement Gets Final Approval Over Benzene in Aveeno, Neutrogena Products

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to give class members full refunds, to remove certain ingredients from its aerosol products, and to conduct better benzene testing as part of the spray sunscreen lawsuit settlement

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all Johnson & Johnson spray sunscreen lawsuits has granted final approval for a class action settlement, which will provide refunds and vouchers to those who purchased Neutrogena and Aveeno products contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen.

Johnson & Johnson issued a massive sunscreen recall in 2021, after a report released by the on-line testing pharmacy Valisure found that samples of Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreen contained dangerous levels of benzene, a toxic chemical that is known to increase the risk of cancer and could pose long-term health risks in sunscreen, which many individuals liberally apply to their body on a regular basis.

In the wake of the recall, a number of sunscreen class action lawsuits were filed throughout the federal court system, seeking damages for consumers who purchased the products. The lawsuits over benzene contamination have been centralized for coordinated management as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida before Judge Raag Singhal for pretrial proceedings.

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Sunscreen Recall Lawsuits

Leukemia, lymphoma and other cancer may be caused by benzene in Neutrogena, Aveeno, Coppertone and other sunscreens.

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Benzene is an industrial chemical that has long been linked to fatal forms of leukemia and other cancers. The FDA considers it a solvent which should not be used in drug products, if avoidable. However, if benzene is not avoidable, it should be restricted to 2 parts per million (ppm), FDA regulations state.

Long-term side effects of benzene exposure have been proven to cause anemia, which is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Essentially, the chemical causes bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, which can damage an individual’s immune system. Federal regulators have determined long-term exposure to benzene can significantly impact blood cells, to the extent it causes cancer such as leukemia, a cancer of the blood-forming organs.

Spray Sunscreen Lawsuit Settlement Agreement

In March 2022, Judge Singhal granted preliminary approval to a settlement agreement that would resolve at least eight class action lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson over the presence of benzene in Neutrogena and Aveeno spray sunscreen products.

At the time, the details of the agreement were not made public. However, in an order (PDF) granting final approval to the settlement agreement issued on February 28, Judge Singhal indicates Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay a full refund for the price of purchasing the recalled spray sunscreen products to class members, and $1.75 million in vouchers for consumers who purchased benzene-tainted products which were not subjected to the recall.

In addition, as part of the agreement, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to remove any aerosol products from its inventory which use isobutane, which has been linked to the benzene contamination. The company must also adopt new testing protocols in order to better detect benzene.

In addition to the class action claims seeking refunds, Johnson & Johnson still faces potential sunscreen cancer lawsuits brought on behalf of consumers who developed various forms of blood cancers following regular use of recalled Neutrogena or Aveeno products, including Acute Myeloid Leukema (AML), Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), Hairy Cell Leukemia (HCL), Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma, Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDL), Myelofibrosis and Myeloid Metaplasia, Aplastic Anemia and Thrombocytopenic Purpura.

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