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OGX Hair Product Litigation Against Johnson & Johnson

Posted on: December 25, 2023

POSTED BY:
PN Editor
December 25, 2023

OGX Hair Product Litigation Against Johnson & Johnson

 

OGX Hair Product Litigation Against Johnson & Johnson

In recent years, litigation has been ongoing regarding the allegations against Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. where class action suits claim that the OGX brand of shampoos and conditioners contain harmful chemicals leading to hair loss. These lawsuits specifically charge that J&J falsely promoted OGX hair products as safe and effective for hair repair, nourishment, and rejuvenation. Contrary to these assertions, plaintiffs contend that the inclusion of chemicals like formaldehyde and DMDM hydantoin have caused significant harm, directly resulting in hair loss.

About OGX Hair Products

OGX, a line of hair care essentials including shampoos and conditioners, was initially launched by Vogue International. In 2016, Johnson & Johnson acquired the parent company for a staggering $3.3 billion, taking over the OGX product line. Post-acquisition, J&J has been actively marketing OGX to consumers aiming for lustrous, smooth, and healthy-looking hair, while the products’ packaging has made claims of reviving and enhancing the caliber of damaged hair. Yet, several legal claims argue these product assertions are misleading as the OGX items include chemicals such as formaldehyde and DMDM, recognized for their harmful effects.

Formaldehyde and DMDM

Formaldehyde, a widely acknowledged human carcinogen and allergen, can cause cancer and various damaging health effects upon contact with the skin. It is produced when DMDM hydantoin, a common preservative in cosmetics, reacts with water. The presence of DMDM has been linked with adverse reactions such as hair loss, scalp dermatitis, and thinning hair. This association has led to numerous consumer complaints and various lawsuits, even prior to the plaintiffs experiencing any injuries. As a chemical that releases formaldehyde, DMDM serves to preserve products by inhibiting microbial growth, thus extending their shelf life.

Johnson & Johnson has been aware of these risks associated with DMDM for some time. In August 2012, J&J publicly acknowledged the detrimental health effects related to DMDM and announced a plan to remove formaldehyde and other noxious substances from its adult personal care products by the end of 2015. This decision followed a similar pledge to eliminate these chemicals from its infant care products by the end of 2013. Moreover, J&J’s official stance on the safety of preservatives, including its commitment to limiting substances like DMDM hydantoin, is evident on the company’s website—underscored by concerns over consumer safety.

 

Acquisition and Continued Sales of Vogue OGX Products by J&J

In 2016, J&J acquired Vogue, a preeminent entity in the manufacturing and distribution of hair care and personal care items in the United States, among which were the OGX Products at the center of the current legal proceedings. Regrettably, although J&J acknowledged the potential dangers associated with DMDM and proactively removed this ingredient from their adult and baby care product lines, the company persisted in creating, distributing, and vending Vogue OGX Products containing DMDM until September 2021.

September 2021:

J&J and associated defendants publicly announced their decision to discontinue the inclusion of DMDM in the OGX Products, citing a shift towards a reformulated product range. Nonetheless, the production and sale of products with DMDM proceeded unabated up to that point, and even subsequent to the announcement, items with DMDM still found their way to retail outlets, disregarding the discernible risks they posed in comparison to the purported benefits afforded to consumers.

Litigation Facing J&J over OGX Products

OGX Lawsuits Overview

Since 2021, J&J has found itself embroiled in several consumer class action lawsuits relative to the OGX hair care line. The vanguard of these accusations was a lawsuit brought forward by Larissa Whipple in a Californian state court that year, claiming she suffered hair loss resulting from the use of OGX’s Biotin + Collagen Shampoo and Conditioner.

Subsequent complaints echoed similar charges. Collectively, the lawsuits allege that J&J’s promotion of the OGX line as safe and efficacious, while concurrently failing to disclose the detrimental agents within, amounted to deceptive advertising practices. The overarching assertion laid by these cases includes claims of fraud, unjust enrichment, and breaches of various state consumer protection statutes, with the plaintiffs seeking financial restitution in the form of refunds for the misled consumers.

Settlement and Ongoing Litigation

The inaugural batch of OGX class actions against J&J was initiated in the summer of 2021, filed within federal jurisdictions in Illinois and California. These were subsequently reassigned to the District of New Jersey. Come March 2022, both cases concluded courtesy of an entered stipulated dismissal, hinting at a confidential resolution.

An extant class action lawsuit against J&J regarding OGX products, Carr v. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. et al. (1:21-cv-06557), remains active in the Eastern District of New York, persevering months after the initial two cases. This case continues to be vigorously contested by the involved parties without any indication of dismissal.

Concerns Surrounding the Medication Ozempic

Potential Link Between Ozempic and Hair Loss

Ozempic, a groundbreaking treatment option for diabetes, has recently come under scrutiny for its potential association with hair loss complications.

Hair Relaxer Litigation

Cancer Risk Allegations

Lawsuits pertaining to hair relaxers have emerged, asserting that these products may be a causative factor in the development of cancer.

 

What J&J Knew About DMDM Hydantoin in OGX Products

The legal actions against Johnson & Johnson (J&J), also involving Vogue International, are rooted in claims that the entities were informed of the risks posed by the chemicals used in the OGX beauty product series. A detailed timeline showcasing the main findings from various studies that illuminate the potential hazards of DMDM hydantoin is presented below.

Historical Evidence of DMDM Risks

A 1988 patch-test study: Research exploring the correlation between the presence of DMDM in cosmetics and negative effects in individuals with a predisposition to formaldehyde sensitivity concluded that aqueous formulations with DMDM hydantoin may contain free formaldehyde at concentrations equivalent to those found in cosmetic products, which could induce dermatitis. It was also indicated that such products should have warnings about the inclusion of formaldehyde.

The North American Contact Dermatitis Group’s findings from 2005-2006 placed DMDM hydantoin as the 21st most prevalent allergen among those they tested. Their recommendation was to advocate for the complete abstinence from DMDM by patients allergic to formaldehyde.

As a recognized human carcinogen by authoritative bodies such as the United States National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, formaldehyde is associated with harmful conditions, including leukemia.

Further Studies and Findings

A revelation from a 2010 study indicated that certain individuals were allergic to substances that release formaldehyde but not to formaldehyde itself, with DMDM hydantoin identified as particularly reactive.

Evidence from a 2015 study highlighted that extended storage and elevated temperatures could escalate the release of formaldehyde, which might amplify health risks.

Note was made in a 2017 analysis of a substantial increase in positive reactions to both formaldehyde and DMDM hydantoin among subjects.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) lists DMDM as a primary allergen, capable of provoking immune responses that may manifest as itchiness, red rashes, or more severe allergic reactions.

Johnson & Johnson’s Inaction and its Implications

Despite the well-documented risks, J&J has been accused of not taking adequate measures to reformulate or manufacture the OGX Products using safer preservatives or a blend of such agents. This inaction remained, even though viable and safer alternative preservatives were available and feasible to use, as evidenced by DMDM-free formulations utilized in other shampoo and conditioner products created and distributed by J&J.

 

Hiring a Lawyer

J&J has marketed the OGX Products with claims that they enhance hair health and appearance, but has done so without fully disclosing known risks to consumers. This includes potential hair loss, scalp irritation, and allergic reactions. Consumers, who trust J&J to provide comprehensive information, have instead been subjected to false, misleading, or incomplete statements regarding the OGX Products’ safety and efficacy, leading to injuries.

As of now, we are not aware of any attorneys specifically reviewing OBX beauty personal injury lawsuits. If such legal representation exists, their identities are unknown to us, otherwise, we would gladly provide that information. The primary legal attention is currently directed towards consumer class action lawsuits, although this situation may evolve—and might have already by the time you read this—reflecting shifts in legal focus.

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