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J&J recalls Neutrogena, Aveeno Sunscreens

Johnson & Johnson is recalling most of its Neutrogena and Aveeno spray sunscreens from U.S. stores.  The recall comes after the company detected benzene, a potentially cancer-causing chemical, in some of its sunscreen samples.

J&J said on July 14 that consumers should cease using five of its six Neutrogena and Aveeno spray sunscreens. The company said people should dispose of the products, and distributors and retailers should cease selling them. J&J is also planning for product return.

Related: Benzene Sunscreen Lawsuit

A spokesman for the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company said the recall will include removing products from shelves. The spokesman also said J&J doesn’t use benzene in the manufacturing of the spray sunscreens, and is investigating the contamination’s cause.

One of the world’s top sellers of consumer-health products, Johnson & Johnson did not say how many bottles were affected or what the exact benzene levels were. The company did, however, say that the levels were low and not expected to cause health issues.

Recalled Sunscreen Products

J&J said the spray products affected are sold as:

* Neutrogena Beach Defense

* Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport

* Neutrogena Invisible Daily

* Neutrogena Ultra Sheer

* Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreens.

The company said: “Out of an abundance of caution, we are recalling all lots of these specific aerosol sunscreen products.”

J&J said it sells one other spray sunscreen product not affected: Neutrogena Wet Skin.

What is Benzene?

Benzene is a chemical that can cause cancer following high levels of exposure. High levels of exposure can also have more immediate effects that include dizziness, confusion, rapid or irregular heartbeats.

Valisure finds Benzene in 24 Sunscreen Products

J&J’s recall came after Valisure LLC, an online pharmacy, announced it had found high levels of benzene in 24 sunscreens and other suncare products. Valisure then petitioned the FDA to remove those products, including some of those recalled yesterday by J&J.

Valisure CEO, David Light said, “It appears Johnson & Johnson’s internal testing confirms Valisure’s concerns over benzene contamination in several sunscreen products. We hope regulators and manufacturers continue to take further action on sunscreens and other products affected by serious contamination issues.”

Valisure earns Watchdog Reputation

Last year, Valisure’s testing led to recalls of the popular heartburn drug Zantac, as well as the diabetes drug Metformin.

The Wall Street Journal noted that J&J’s recall of the popular sunscreen sprays is another black mark for a J&J consumer unit that has faced several other product recalls and lawsuits.

More than ten years ago, manufacturing problems forced J&J to remove from the market Tylenol, Benadryl and other over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, many of which were intended for children. Those recalls hurt J&J’s reputation among customers, causing the company to lose more than an estimated $1 billion dollars in subsequent sales.

Talc Powder Lawsuits haunt J&J

J&J currently faces thousands of lawsuits that allege the company’s talcum powder causes cancer or mesothelioma. Plaintiffs’ petitions charge that J&J failed to warn women about the risks associated with using J&J talcum powder in products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower.

J&J’s consumer-health unit reported sales of $14.1 billion worldwide last year. The cost of the recall for J&J may be difficult to determine, because the company doesn’t separate out sales of Neutrogena and Aveeno products, which also include lotions, soaps and shampoos.

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