NEW DELHI: The country’s top drug regulator is likely to take massive action against all factories of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) on Wednesday to seize samples of its talcum powder and raw material used, which have come under the scanner in the US for allegedly containing cancer-causing asbestos, an official source said.
“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 7am tomorrow (Wednesday) across the country. Samples of all brands of the powder will be collected and sent for testing,” the source told TOI.
The plan for the search operations was finalised after a decision taken late on Tuesday evening at a high-level meeting in the health ministry.
This comes even as the American pharmaceutical giant is already caught in a separate controversy in India for supplying faulty hip implants. The company is locked in litigation with the government after the health ministry ordered it to pay compensation ranging between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 1.2 crore to patients affected by the implants.
On Wednesday, the regulatory team will search J&J factories in India to check compliance with all regulatory and manufacturing standards, for the presence of asbestos in any brand of its powder — for both children and adults — and the raw material used, and whether J&J’s products comply with cosmetics standards in India, the source said.
“We will collect samples from across the country and send them for further testing,” he said.
In July this year, a Missouri court had ordered J&J to pay $4.7 billion compensation and damages to 22 women in the US who claimed asbestos in its talc had caused them ovarian cancer.
While the company maintains its powder is “safe and asbestos-free”, a new investigation by Reuters last week (Friday) in the US indicated that J&J may have known since 1971 that its baby powder contained small amounts of “cancer-causing” asbestos. Following the news of the investigation, the company’s shares plunged the most in more than 15 years on Friday.
Earlier this month, Health Canada also cautioned on the respiratory and cancer dangers of talc use, urging healthcare professionals to advise patients against using the talc for The governmental action is based on a thorough analysis of scientific studies linking talc exposure to ovarian cancer and respiratory conditions such as the regulator said.
At present, the company is facing more than 9,000 cases over body powders containing talc, according to its latest quarterly filing with US’s Securities and Exchange Commission, and has consistently denied that its products are dangerous or contain asbestos.
J&J is a global leader in skincare and health, owning brands like Neutrogena, Tylenol, Splenda, Aveeno, and Band-Aid. In India, the company’s flagship baby powder holds around 13% of the Rs 700-crore talcum powder market, industry sources said. Other baby powders in the market include the new Himalaya Baby and Dove baby line.
News Source: TOI