A family company should uphold values of a family, which includes integrity and respect for all other family members. When I first heard that Johnson & Johnson would be releasing its own COVID-19 vaccine in February 2021 I immediately signaled a red flag.
Don't do it. Don't take anything from them. I silently urged America not to trust one of the globes worst family health companies in such arduous times. I only wish I would have said it out loud.
On Monday, April 12, 2021, the FDA recommended a pause on all doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines after 6 women reported blood clots after receiving the vaccine. The women, all between ages 18 and 48, reported symptoms occurred 6-13 days after being vaccinated.
Signs signaling a problem included severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, and shortness of breath. As of this articles posting, one woman has died in Virginia and another remains in critical condition in Nebraska.
The blood clot, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, is a rare form of blood clot that cannot be treated with standard blood clot protocols. For these women, alternative treatments must be considered.
The History of Unqualified
In my personal opinion, Johnson & Johnson had no business making a vaccination for a virus we know so little about in such pressing times. Frankly put, the company hasn't been able to successfully readjust its own product formulas to meet the needs of its consumers for decades.
Even with looking at these past 10 years, J&J has responded to numerous product disputes and allegations, and paid billions (with a B) in settlement fees as a result of consumers suing for health issues connected to the companies toxic ingredients.
Since the 1950s, beauty and wellness companies have known the risks of including talc in powder-based cosmetics like eyeshadow palettes, face powders, and baby powders. Talc, a natural-occurring mineral, is formed by the same rock asbestos comes from.
Years can pass between the time an individual is exposed to asbestos before chronic and lethal health issues appear. The federal government says there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. It doesn't matter if it was 15 minutes or 15 years, if you are exposed, your health may be compromised.
And still with this knowledge, it wasn't until May 2020 that J&J announced the end of selling talc-based baby powders in the U.S. and Canada. The action didn't come until after the Environmental Working Group (EWG) demanded congressional action be taken to intervene and implement safety warnings in October 2019. That is a 70-year gap between identifying the health risk-factors and ceasing the use of high-risk ingredients, and it wasn't their idea to begin.
For America to trust J&J with an executive rush is highly irresponsible, to say the least. And this isn't just my unbiased opinion forming this argument.
The wellness company is known for making medical devices and producing pharmaceuticals on top of its consumer goods, but who is to say we can trust their practices based solely on years of operation?
One with $3.9 billion in settlement fees?
Cosmetic coalitions have logged years pushing for ingredient reviews, banning the use of toxic chemicals in products, and demanding congressional action to regulate cosmetics and approve safety. Often times, J&J is name dropped as a brand responsible for too many major mishaps in the cosmetic and wellness industry.
Slow progress has been made in an attempt to clean the companies product catalogue, but the efforts can be described as mediocre. In 2014, J&J pledged to remove formaldehyde-releasing preservatives from its baby products...and eventually adult products.
The statement released by the family brand said it would "avoid use of formaldehyde releasers in adult products whenever possible."
When will it ever be possible? When you make it possible. As the formulator of all sold products, it is the companies responsibility to make sure when products leave manufacturing facilities it is tested, safe, and working as it should. There doesn't need to be a gamble with accuracy and effectiveness. Especially when the gamble costs someone else's health and well-being after they spent their money with you.
This statement was released 3 years after the Obama Administration legally categorized formaldehyde as a carcinogen, a cancer causing chemical.
It may seem unfair to label J&J as trash because of a few bad instances. However, these aren't just "a few bad", this is only from the last decade. Given its full history since its establishment in 1886, its surely responsible for countless fatalities at the end of its product line.
The Not-So-Blind Truth
Low-income minority communities are targeted victims of Johnson & Johnson and have been for almost a century. Explaining institutional racism can be difficult without specifics, but J&J luckily provides many prime examples of intentional, systemic racism.
Advertisements play a major roll in the normalization of body odor concealment within Black communities. These ads are intentionally targeting young Black women with devices used to douche and cleanse their vaginas as promotion of good health.
(Let the record set straight that douching is not beneficial by any means.)
And still, Black mothers passed the talc-based powder principle down from generation to generation as the go-to personal hygiene hack. Baby powder is used numerous ways in Black households from moisture absorption in sheets to oil absorption in hair. We use it everywhere.
"It was that they were using stereotypes linked to Black women to manipulate us and to encourage us to buy a potentially dangerous product."
Krystal Kim, an ovarian cancer survivor and J&J settlement recipient, says how the wellness company was able to target and manipulate the Black community.
"Johnson and Johnson knew for decades that it had asbestos in it. So when White women stop using it, they figured, okay, we’ll get the money from the Black women and make them feel that they need to smell better or we're going to. Our product is going to make them smell better and feel smoother or whatever. But ultimately it's gonna kill them."
Kim was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 47-years-old after undergoing a fibroid procedure. She received a full hysterectomy and did chemo therapy as treatment for the rare cancer before discovering the connection between her cancer diagnosis and her lifelong use of Johnson & Johnson baby powder.
After completing an online questionnaire, Kim was contacted by a lawyer working on building a case against J&J from exposure to toxic chemicals. One piece of evidence was a sample of Krystal’s tissue that had been removed during hysterectomy. The law firm sent some of that tissue to an expert. The test results showed that there was talc in her the tissue of her ovaries and fallopian tubes and there was asbestos in her lymph nodes.
I wouldn't even know how to react. After receiving a standard fibroid procedure I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at my follow-up appointment, then I have a hysterectomy but still have to go through chemo, and then I find my cancer is linked to baby powder and I have asbestos in my lymph nodes and ovaries?!
You bet your ass I'm filing a lawsuit.
At the time of Kim's case, J&J CEO, Alex Gorsky, defended its talc-based baby powders, claiming the talc sourced as "the purest, safest pharmaceutical grade talc on earth" and that J&J baby powder has never contained asbestos.
Cases like Kim's exist all over the country with new ones appearing each year. A health and wellness company shouldn't be allowed to operate with billions of dollars in settlement fees from families who have experienced fatal loss entrusting their health to this fortune 500 company that will never see them.
Black women consume vaginal deodorant products more than White women. Instead, deodorant sprays for intimate areas were advertised to White women in popular magazines like Life in the 70s. This is due to advertisements being pushed more in Black communities.
"It was that they were using stereotypes linked to Black women to manipulate us and to encourage us to buy a potentially dangerous product." Kim continued.
A practice commonly used in the beauty and wellness industry. We always see celebrity cosmetic "dupes" in communities of color where there are typically lower income families looking for materials with higher appeal. These counterfeit cosmetics, such as lip kits and eyeshadows, include harmful ingredients that wouldn't be found in traditional cosmetics.
While these counterfeit products aren't promoted at the hands of trademarked brands, it's a valid demonstration of the dangers that enter low income communities under regular circumstances.
In a time where good health status is of the essence to participate in majority of life's mundane activities, we see how some communities are and always have been left behind.
Johnson & Johnson is a prime example of why we need more FDA regulations in place, now and forever. Because when we need it most, we don't want to worry about if it will work for us or kill us.
Now, with a pandemic on our hands that is clearly not going to be officially gone within the next two years, communities across the globe are worrying about if the vaccine is more of a risk than not getting it.
Another epidemic to deal with thanks to a non-integrity company.
Again, this article is not intended to write-off Johnson & Johnson after pointing out a handful of company scandals. But for me, it's enough to pay closer attention to the organizations practices and consider alternatives before voting with confidence.
It's beyond unfortunate that families are having to debate s heavily about a vaccine meant to help them in one of the largest crises we've seen in our lives. We need to hold Johnson & Johnson accountable for the six women injured by their vaccinations and the millions of Americans that are now more apprehensive to seeking the COVID-19 vaccine from any pharmaceutical company offering it.
These reasons and more are why I was initially against the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and slowly losing respect for this once idolized company. Let the actions speak for themselves that J&J doesn't consider the true health and well-being of its consumers.
Just meeting the demand in a timely fashion while skipping steps and paying for secrets to be kept.