Johnson and Johnson: Drug regulator likely to seize talcum powder samples for testing in countrywide raids today

India’s drug regulator is likely to investigate Johnson and Johnson baby powder following recent reports that said the company knew for decades about the presence of cancer-causing asbestos in the product.

FP Staff December 19, 2018 11:00:39 IST
Johnson and Johnson: Drug regulator likely to seize talcum powder samples for testing in countrywide raids today

India’s drug regulator is likely to investigate Johnson and Johnson baby powder by seizing talcum powder samples and raw materials used, for testing in countrywide raids on Wednesday. The action comes after recent reports stated that said the company knew for decades about the presence of cancer-causing asbestos in the product.

“A team of 100 drug inspectors has been assigned to examine different manufacturing facilities, wholesalers and distributors that make or sell J&J’s talcum powder in India. The inspectors will start searches at 7 am on Wednesday across the country. Samples of all brands of the powder will be collected and sent for testing,” the source told Times of India.

The inspectors have also been told to lift samples of raw material used by J&J in talcum powder, with the finished product from retail stores across the country, reported The Mint.

Johnson and Johnson Drug regulator likely to seize talcum powder samples for testing in countrywide raids today

Representational image. Reuters

Earlier, nothing wrong was found in the powder after testing reported Reuters. K Bangarurajan, a senior official at the  Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) said that powder samples were tested earlier but nothing wrong was found in them.

“We tested samples in 2016, but no such thing was found in them,” Bangarurajan said by phone. “The samples were found to be complying with Indian standards.”

A Reuters examination of many company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents, as well as deposition and trial testimony, showed that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, and that company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.

The documents also depicted successful efforts to influence US regulators’ plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on the health effects of talc.

J&J said in a statement that a Reuters article exposing the company, which was published on Friday, “is one-sided, false and inflammatory.”

“Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is safe and asbestos-free,” it added. “Studies of more than 100,000 men and women show that talc does not cause cancer or asbestos-related disease. Thousands of independent tests by regulators and the world’s leading labs prove our baby powder has never contained asbestos,” the company said.

Before the Reuters report, a small portion of the documents had been produced during the trial and cited in media reports. Many were shielded from public view by court orders that allowed J&J to turn over thousands of documents it designated as confidential. Much of their contents was reported by Reuters for the first time.

J&J said on Monday it planned to buy back up to $5 billion of its stock after the Reuters report wiped about $40 billion from its market value.

With inputs from Reuters

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