Neutrogena Corp. is facing a proposed class action in California federal court alleging that it allowed its sunscreen products to become contaminated with benzene, a compound linked with leukemia and other types of cancer.

According to the complaint, online pharmacy Valisure tested Neutrogena’s products and found benzene, which can be absorbed through the skin, present above the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s concentration limit of 2 parts per million, with some products containing nearly 7 parts per million.

While Valisure tested whether the benzene could have been formed by degradation of the active ingredients of the sunscreens, it found that this was not likely, and, therefore, the sunscreen was contaminated and its presence is a manufacturing defect, according to the suit.

As a result, the sunscreen is adulterated and being sold illegally, which alleged that the products are rendered useless and worthless because of the carcinogen’s presence. In addition, Neutrogena has misled consumers by concealing the contamination and failing to warn them about the danger the products present.

Lead Plaintiff Sheila French aims to represent a national class of all buyers of the sunscreen, as well as a subclass of those buyers who purchased them in Florida, where she is a resident. French said that she brought the action in California, as that is where Neutrogena’s principal place of business is located.

She’s bringing claims for breach of express and implied warranty, violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, fraudulent concealment and unjust enrichment. She is seeking unspecified monetary damages and injunctive relief to stop Neutrogena from selling the affected products.


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