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Wisner Baum Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Proactiv, Other Acne Products

aisle of acne creams

Class action attorneys from Wisner Baum filed several class actions this week alleging multiple companies sold benzoyl peroxide acne treatment products without warning consumers that they contained unsafe levels of benzene, a potent carcinogen linked to leukemia and other blood disorders.

Independent testing from Valisure found that on-market benzoyl peroxide products can form over 800 times the FDA’s conditionally restricted concentration limit of 2 parts per million (ppm) for benzene. Current evidence suggests that this problem applies broadly to benzoyl peroxide products currently on the market.

R. Brent Wisner and Stephanie B. Sherman filed the cases in state and federal courts on behalf of consumers who allege the following companies fraudulently marketed benzoyl peroxide products when they knew or should have known that the products degrade to benzene:

  • Alchemee, LLC and Taro Pharmaceutical USA, Inc. (Proactiv)
  • CVS Pharmacy Inc. and CVS Health Corp. (CVS Health Acne Treatment BPO products)
  • RB Health, LLC (Clearasil)
  • Target Corp. (Up & Up)
  • Genomma Lab USA, Inc. (Asepxia Acne Spot Treatment Cream)
  • Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Daily Creamy Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Face Wash and Maximum Strength Acne Foaming Wash)
  • Walmart Inc. (Equate Beauty)
  • Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (Clean & Clear and Neutrogena)

Here is a link to an example case: Howard et al. v. Alchemee, LLC and Taro Pharmaceutical USA, Inc., Case No. 2:24-cv-01834

Testing Found Benzene in Certain Acne Face Washes and Creams at High Levels

Valisure, an independent accredited laboratory that uses validated analytical methods to test drugs and consumer products for safety, tested 99 BPO-formulated products and found that some yielded benzene at levels 800 times 2 ppm, the maximum amount allowed in any U.S.-regulated drug. Some of the benzene levels found in testing reached as high as 1700 ppm for Proactiv’s 2.5% BPO Cream and 1600 ppm for Target’s Up & Up 2.5% BPO Cream.

In its Citizens Petition to the FDA, Valisure informed the agency that its pharmacists simulated temperature conditions the BPO products would be exposed to during normal use, handling, and storage then sampled for benzene. The BPO products tested included (among others):

  • Proactiv 2.5% BPO Cream
  • Target Up & Up 2.5% BPO Cream
  • Equate Beauty 10% BPO Cream
  • Equate BPO Cleanser
  • Neutrogena 10% BPO Cleanser
  • Clearasil 10% BPO Cream
  • CVS Health 10% BPO Face Wash
  • Walgreens 10% BPO Cream
  • La Roche Posay BPO Cream

Valisure’s Citizen’s Petition to the FDA demanded an immediate recall of all BPO products to protect public health.

Class Action Allegations Against Proactiv, Other Acne Treatment Products

The class actions allege the named companies marketed and sold BPO creams, washes, and scrubs to teens and adults when they knew or should have known that the products degraded to benzene under normal consumer use, handling, and storage conditions, thus exposing consumers to harm without their knowledge and consent. The companies continued to advertise and sell its benzoyl peroxide-formulated products, ignoring an FDA safety alert on the dangers of benzene in consumer products and a directive to test products for benzene.

Attorneys allege the degradation of benzoyl peroxide to benzene was first reported in scientific literature in 1936. The acne treatment product manufacturers knew or should have known their BPO products would degrade and form benzene. “These companies consistently affirm their BPO products are safe, researched, tested, backed by science, and approved by dermatologists,” said Wisner Baum class action attorney Stephanie B. Sherman. “But what we have learned is that in reality, these BPO products, which are widely marketed to teenagers and adults, are not being tested for basic public safety and are contaminated with a well-known carcinogen that could result in lasting harmful health effects.”

Sherman adds that consumers deserve to know what is in products they put on their skin, and the health risks of use so they can make informed decisions.

Wisner Baum Class Action Attorneys

Wisner Baum is in active litigation against several acne product manufacturers, including the makers of Proactiv, Clearasil, and other widely available products formulated with benzoyl peroxide.

If you would like more information on the acne product class action, please contact us or call our legal team at 855-948-5098.


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