Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has apologized for funding a study that injected incarcerated people with cancer-causing asbestos, according to Fierce Pharma.
In 1971 a J&J study injected 10 incarcerated men with asbestos, a key ingredient in their baby powder, said the March 8 article. The testing involved mostly Black prisoners.
“This is some pretty horrific stuff, and the plaintiffs will definitely want to use it to show J&J’s handling of its baby powder line over the years hasn’t been the greatest,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor.
Dermatologist Albert Kligman’s experiment at Holmesburg Prison in Pennsylvania was public knowledge, but J&J’s involvement was not known until last year, when it came to light during two lawsuits over claims that the company’s talcum powder causes cancer.
Kligman asked 10 people from the prison to receive injections into their skin of chrysolite, causing granulomas, a bumpy inflammation of the skin, said Fierce Pharma.
“My use of paid prisoners as research subjects in the 1950s and 1960s was in keeping with this nation’s standard protocol for conducting scientific investigations at the time,” said Kligman.
Kligman died in 2010 and never admitted that the experiments he conducted were wrong, according to the report.
“We deeply regret the conditions under which these studies were conducted, and in no way do they reflect the values or practices we employ today,” a J&J spokesperson said.
J&J has offered $2 billion to settle tens of thousands of cases, reported the article.
The company defended the testing as accepted practice at the time, reported the article.