Beiersdorf, Inc. and Bayer Healthcare, LLC face a proposed class action that claims their Coppertone Defend and Care Whipped Ultra Hydrate SPF 50 sunscreen contains an undisclosed carcinogen.
The 26-page case echoesseveralotherlawsuitsfiled in the wake of a study published by analytical pharmacy Valisure LLC, who said it had discovered concerning levels of benzene, a substance linked to leukemia and other cancers, in various sunscreen products, including Coppertone Defend and Care Whipped Ultra Hydrate SPF 50.
According to the case, consumers who purchased the Coppertone product were misled by the sunscreen’s packaging and labeling, which includes no mention of the presence of benzene. The suit says consumers have lost the benefit of their bargain by purchasing a product that is unsafe for use and “entirely worthless” due to its contamination with the toxic substance.
The lawsuit relays that scientific studies have shown there to be no safe level of benzene exposure, especially when the “incredibly dangerous” substance is applied to the skin, where it can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. The presence of benzene in sunscreen is “particularly dangerous,” the suit says, given the application of sunscreen typically involves using a significant amount of the product and reapplying it later. According to the case, even a low amount of benzene in a sunscreen can result in a high level of exposure.
In light of the foregoing, Valisure’s May 2021citizen petitionto the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is “particularly concerning,” the lawsuit argues. Per the complaint, Valisure detected benzene in numerous sunscreen products, including the Coppertone Defend and Care sunscreen at issue in this case.
The level of benzene found in the Coppertone product, notably, was among the lowest of the sunscreens in which benzene was detected by Valisure. According to Valisure, a product with benzene levels of less than 0.10 parts per million “warrants further investigation but is likely of less concern than products with a defined value of 0.10 ppm or higher.”
Nevertheless, the lawsuit states that according to the FDA, benzene is a “Class 1 solvent” that should never be used in the manufacture of drug products, due to its “unacceptable toxicity,” unless its use is unavoidable in order to achieve the product’s therapeutic benefits. The suit notes that because most of the sunscreens tested by Valisure did not contain benzene, its presence in sunscreen products is not unavoidable.
The case claims that reasonable consumers are concerned about what they put into and onto their bodies and thus would not have purchased the Coppertone sunscreen had they known it contained benzene.
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