According to media reports on Thursday, Johnson & Johnson has been asked not to manufacture its baby powder in two of its factories in India by the India’s drugs regulator till such time that test results of its raw materials proves that they are free of asbestos.
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) has sent a written order to the U.S. company asking ordering it to halt manufacturing of its baby power using the “huge quantities” of raw materials that is stocked in its plants in northern and western India, said the reports quoting an official of the CDSCO but not naming the official because of the sensitivity of the matter.
According to a statement from the company, some of its facilities were visited by officials from the Indian drug agency on Wednesday. The representatives had also collected “tests and samples” of its talcum powder. The company also added that a long history of safe use and decades of research and clinical evidence by independent researchers and scientific review boards throughout the world was basis of the safety of its cosmetic talc.
After media reports last Friday that J&J had been aware for decades about the presence of cancer-causing asbestos in some of its products, an investigation was launched into J&J’s Baby Powder by the CDSCO and state-based food and drug administrations resulting in the J&J facility visits. The allegations and the news reports has been described by J&J as being “one-sided, false and inflammatory”.
Its entire process of manufacturing and testing of its talc is well within and in full compliance with the current Indian regulatory requirements, the company had told the media.
“All talc in India is sourced and exclusively sold in India and surrounding markets – including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives – and fully meets the regulatory standards of the Government of India,” the company said in an emailed statement to the media.
To ensure that there is no asbestos in its products, both suppliers and independent labs regularly conducts tests of its talc, J&J also said its talc.
The report also quoted the official at the drugs regulator saying that it was “the inference you have to take” at least as far as the stores of raw materials were concerned, in reference to a question that whether the order meant the company would have to stop producing its ubiquitous baby powder in India for now.
“We have told them until this investigation concludes, you should not use the raw material. Test results will take time,” the official reportedly told the media. “Testing for asbestos is not a routine procedure. It might be in traces. It will require us to develop a method and all those things.”
Along with its brands such as Colgate toothpaste and Surf detergent, its J&J’s Baby Powder is amongst the most recognised foreign brands in India.
The scare which first saw action against the company in the US is yet to exhibit any impact against J&J products in India even though it can be an opportunity for its rival brands in India which also includes some local brands.
(Adapted from BusinessToday.com)