Dozens of popular sunscreens, including Neutrogena, have been found to include dangerous levels of benzene, a known cancer-causing chemical sometimes used in manufacturing medications. Benzene levels are strictly enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which believes that no amount in sunscreen is legitimate.

Due to this contamination by a carcinogen, there have been multiple requests for recalls and for the companies to be held responsible. In May 2021, proceedings began on a class-action suit against Neutrogena and Johnson & Johnson in an attempt to hold them responsible for this negligence.

If you or a loved one have recently developed cancer or leukemia and are concerned that long-term use of sunscreen products may have contributed, you should reach out to a lawyer today. By using our forms below, you can be put in touch with a local attorney. They will offer a free, no-obligation consultation to determine if you may be eligible for compensation.

Benzene Contamination in Neutrogena

Valisure, a well-respected independent lab, and online pharmacy, routinely tests products it sells. As part of providing quality care to the clients that use their site, it spends millions of dollars on high-quality testing of medications and healthcare treatments. In early 2021, it tested over three hundred sunscreens and “after sun” products to check for levels of benzene. This chemical has been known to contaminate medications and hand-washes before.

Unfortunately, Valisure’s research produced disturbing results. Not only did dozens of sunscreens contain benzene, but many were above the acceptable level set by the FDA. Upon these results, the company immediately contacted the FDA and called for a recall on all batches they had tested.

While other brands were involved, including CVS Health, Banana Boat, EltaMD, and Fruit of the Earth, the brand with the most contaminated products was Neutrogena.

As of July 2021, the FDA has not recalled any batch of sunscreen. Medical professionals recommend checking the report by Valisure and switching sunscreens, if necessary, to one of the hundreds that showed a proven lack of contamination.

Benzene – A Deadly Carcinogen

Benzene, a chemical used in manufacturing plastics and medications, has been described by the World Health Organization as “a well-established cause of cancer.” It is known to also cause serious blood conditions and cause fetotoxicity (harm to unborn babies).

Because of the dangers of benzene, the FDA insists that no product should contain more than two parts per million of the chemical. In those same standards, it recommends that benzene should not be found in any level from products that do not require it in manufacturing. This includes sunscreens.

The American Cancer Society recognizes that benzene exposure greatly increases the risk of leukemia,  particularly acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Lab studies have also shown chromosome changes in bone marrow cells, suggesting that issues with bone marrow may be attributed to being exposed to benzene.

Sunscreen – A Life Saver We Need

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with melanoma deaths expected to increase by five percent in 2021. SPF 15 sunscreen halves the risk of melanoma, with higher levels doing even more to protect bodies from the dangers. Doctors recommend that sunscreen be applied daily (and reapplied every two hours if you are outside).

The ingredients of sunscreen are perfectly healthy for children and adults, with the only people recommended not to use it being children under the age of six months. There are no long-term studies that suggest any negative effects to the continued application of sunscreen, despite decades of research.

Ordinary sunscreen is safe and life-saving. For the sunscreens that Valisure has found to contain no benzene, this is a huge tick of approval – we should be buying them, using them, and keeping healthy.

Why Contaminated Sunscreen Is a Big Deal

The biggest concern about benzene-contaminated sunscreen comes from recent research showing how sunscreen ingredients can seep into our skin and bloodstream. Regular use of sunscreen leads to a substantial increase in the concentration of its ingredients throughout the body. For standard ingredients in sunscreen, this is perfectly safe. However, when contaminated with chemicals like benzene, it may be doing more damage than benzene exposure from other common sources like cigarettes or exhaust.

Current Lawsuits Against Neutrogena

The first lawsuits against Neutrogena appeared on the docket in May 2021. Meredith Serota of Florida applied on behalf of herself and anyone else affected as the beginning of a class-action suit. Class-action lawsuits represent anyone who has suffered, even if they are not currently applying for a lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that Neutrogena failed by breaking the FDA guidelines in having an illegal concentration of benzene and by not informing the public. It also claims that it was negligent in not doing enough in testing its product.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for those who have purchased the sunscreen, as well as recognition of the legal liability of the companies. If Serota wins her case, it will set a precedent for victims in the future.

It is expected that more plaintiffs will join this class action over the coming months, and we will see new cases against sunscreen manufacturers.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Affected by Benzene-Contaminated Sunscreen?

If you or a loved one has developed cancer and regularly apply sunscreen from one of the brands mentioned in the Valisure report, you may be eligible for compensation. Speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible will give the best chance at justice.

Attorneys are more likely to be able to help you when you already have the important information they will need. Get copies of your medical records, any receipts you have from purchasing sunscreen, and even empty bottles you may still have in the house. These all may provide valuable evidence if you decide to begin a case against Neutrogena.

How to Know if I Qualify for Compensation?

During your first consultation with a lawyer, they will be looking for certain information in order to determine if you qualify for compensation. While this information changes over time, lawyers right now are confident that people who meet the following criteria have good reason to go to court:

  • You have been diagnosed with cancer, leukemia, or other serious illness since 2017.
  • You used sunscreen of any brand daily, but especially brands mentioned in Valisure’s report. This sunscreen has been used since 2016 and was purchased in the USA.

It may not be necessary for you to have been diagnosed specifically with cancer, as benzene contamination has been known to cause a range of health issues.

How Does a Lawsuit Against Neutrogena Work?

The first step in any lawsuit should be to speak with an experienced attorney about the theoretical likelihood of a case. These first meetings are generally free and will save you a lot of heartache down the road.

From there, you (or your lawyer) will apply to the court to have your case heard. Following this point will be countless hearings, statements, and thousands of pages of documents.

In cases as large as these, complainants often band together to tackle the pharmaceutical companies by creating class action or multidistrict litigation (MDL). If your lawyer has determined that you may have a case, they may also discuss with you the benefits of joining one of these larger class actions. The pooled resources of the plaintiffs can often offer an extra advantage against the multinational organizations that will be spending millions on their own legal counsel.

You do not need your own lawyer to start litigation against Neutrogena. However, the legal system can be quite complex. Law firms understand that the costs of running a case can appear quite prohibitive. That is why most personal injury firms today will take cases “on contingency.” This means that they will not take any fees from you unless they succeed in obtaining justice for you. Even then, they will only take a percentage of the compensation that remains after your medical bills are covered. This method is to ensure that good legal advice is available to everyone, regardless of wealth. It also provides extra motivation for lawyers to get you the very best outcome possible – because it benefits them as well.

How Long Does It Take To Settle a Lawsuit Against Pharmaceutical Companies?

It is sometimes difficult to predict how long it may take before a lawsuit is settled. Because many hearings may be needed before a decision occurs, and because original decisions can be appealed, early hearings on cases such as those against Neutrogena may take years to settle.

Fortunately, if you have chosen a lawyer to represent you, you are not required to attend most of the hearings that will occur. Your attorney will keep you appraised of how the case progresses and will inform you of any time you may need to make decisions, appearances, or write statements about your situation.

As an indication of the time cases may take, we can look at similar situations from the past. For example, Johnson & Johnson (the second defendant in the Neutrogena case) is still appealing decisions against it after the first courts agreed it was liable for asbestos contamination in their talcum powder. The first cases in this matter appeared over five years ago. However, new cases in this matter are being settled within months.

While your case may take time, you are also standing up for all those like you – your sacrifice will be helping justice prevail for many other innocent victims.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Pharmaceutical Lawsuits?

The time you have between “being injured” and being able to file for compensation is known as the “statute of limitations.” In this case, “being injured” could mean when you were diagnosed with cancer or when you first discovered that the cancer was linked to contaminated sunscreen.

The allowed time between injury and filing is different for every state and ranges from three months to ten years. Because of the complexities involved with medical cases, it is best to assume you only have a small window of opportunity to seek the justice you deserve. Speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible is the most prudent option.

How Much Can You Get From a Lawsuit Against Pharmaceutical Companies?

When a court orders for compensation, it will include coverage for all prior and ongoing medical expenses and usually also covers a large amount for personal suffering caused to you and your loved ones. If a company decides to settle to avoid a judgment being made against it, it may offer different amounts. It is best to entrust a lawyer with a proven reputation in ensuring compensation for their clients.

We are only now seeing the first cases against the sunscreen manufacturers today, and no court decisions have been made. This means it is difficult to estimate how much compensation you may be entitled to.

However, we can look to prior cases. This year, for example, Johnson & Johnson lost an appeal against a $2.1 billion verdict in favor of 22 plaintiffs who banded together to seek compensation after using talcum powder contaminated with asbestos.

How Long Does It Take To Get Your Money After You Settle a Lawsuit?

After a decision by the court has been finalized (that is, no appeals are being made), you should receive your compensation within three months. This extra time ensures money is separated correctly between plaintiffs and that all medical costs are paid for appropriately (including putting aside money for future medical bills).

Once your lawyer receives the money that remains, they will take their fee for the work they have done. This is the fee you will have already agreed upon, and they cannot change the amount at this time. They are also obligated to ensure you are then given the rest of the money within days. It will be provided as either a cheque or electronic transfer to the bank of your choosing.

Final Words

Ordinary sunscreen ingredients are perfectly safe and save lives. However, sunscreen that has been contaminated with the dangerous chemical benzene may be contributing to cancer and other illnesses. If you believe you have suffered due to this possibly negligent contamination, you should speak to a lawyer. Let us help get you in contact with the best attorneys in your area so that you can find out if you are eligible for compensation. They will provide a free, no-obligation discussion about your situation and determine how they can help.

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