The global healthcare corporation Johnson & Johnson is advertising branded products to children in sponsored textbooks handed out to kids in NSW public school classrooms.

The “textbook” recently distributed to children is called “BodyWhys: Personal Development” — see the full booklet here. It is sponsored by J&J, and features advertisements for J&J products including tampons, sanitary pads and teen soaps.

Having come a long way since making surgical dressings in the 1880s, the US based J&J is now a global giant with annual sales of more than A$64 billion and earnings of more than A$14 billion.

Through more than a hundred subsidiaries J&J has become the world’s fifth largest drug company, aggressively promoting brands including the top-selling painkiller Tylenol, and the ADHD drug for kids called Concerta.

The J&J “textbook”, which also appears as a curriculum resource for the Catholic Education Office in Hobart, provides information on mood swings, skin changes, genitalia, and menstruation.

The section on menstruation contains blatant advertisements for J&J sanitary products, using both photographs and text:

Try several different types to see which feel comfortable for you. STAYFREE® adhesive pads come in many shapes and sizes. STAYFREE® SPIRIT Ultra Thins and STAYFREE® Ultra Thins give you full protection in an ultra-thin pad, and have wings to help keep the pad in place,” says the booklet. It also mentions that “CAREFREE® Tampons were designed by a woman doctor who specialises in the female reproductive system.

The section of the J&J booklet dealing with pimples recommends that the reader “try a preparation for your face that has been specially formulated for teenage skin, for example, CLEAN & CLEAR®.”

A spokeswoman for the NSW Education Department said the department does not endorse commercial products and services, but schools choose which resources they use. “These can be from within the Department or from external commercial providers. In using commercial resources, this doesn’t imply that they are endorsing any products” she said.

The Catholic Education Office in Hobart says the J&J book can be used at the teacher’s discretion, but that a review of its curriculum resources is underway. At time of writing, J&J had not responded to questions from Crikey.

If global health giant J&J has been given the green light to advertise its tampons in classrooms, via “textbooks”, why not allow McDonalds to promote cheeseburgers, Coke to push its drinks, and Pfizer to promote its anti-depressants? State Education Ministers around the country could even raise some revenues for public schools at the same time.