Unsealed documents from more than 50 years ago, reveal that Johnson &
Johnson funded experiments on prison inmates to examine the effects of talc.
Bloomberg News reports that J&J’s involvement in these controversial talc studies
was not made public until last week.
The unsealed court documents were uncovered in two separate trials last
year alleging that J&J’s asbestos-contaminated, talcum powder
caused mesothelioma in the plaintiffs. By exposing J&J’s unscrupulous
history, testimony about the documents concluded with jurors awarding
one plaintiff with
punitive damages due to J&J’s conduct.
The “baby powder” experiments were conducted by the notorious
Albert Kligman, at the Holmesburg Prison outside of Philadelphia and were sponsored by
J&J. A study from 1971, shockingly, injected inmates with tremolite
and chrysotile asbestos along with a shot of talcum powder in their lower
backs to compare the dermatological reactions. According to plaintiff
attorney, John Satterly, the baby powder experiments “show J&J
was worried about asbestos in its talc decades ago. Why else would they
pay Kligman to inject asbestos into prisoners? They didn’t just
pick asbestos out of thin air.”
Testing on vulnerable populations, which includes the currently incarcerated,
is widely regarded as unethical. Even worse, the subjects chosen were
majority Black adding to J&J’s fraught
legacy of targeting Black communities with their marketing of talcum powder products.
J&J has aggressively defended itself from talc litigation since 2013
and is now
evading responsibility altogether, all while continuing to claim that their talc products are
safe and never contained asbestos in the first place.