Global pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday stated that few of its facilities in India were “visited” by Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and drug regulators of respective state governments to collect “samples” of company’s baby powder.
“Today, a few of our facilities were visited by the CDSCO and local FDA (Food and Drug Administration) authorities and we are fully cooperating with them by providing tests and samples. The characterization of these visits as “raids” or “seizures” is incorrect as has been reported in some instances. The tests have been conducted in the regular way that the FDA collects samples,” a spokesperson of the company stated.
The company knew for decades that its baby powder contained asbestos, Reuters said in a report on Friday. The Reuters investigation comes in the backdrop of the multiple lawsuits that the company is currently facing – where more than 9,000 plaintiffs have alleged that its talc baby powder products contain asbestos and caused ovarian and other cancers. In a major setback to the company, a jury in St. Louis, US, in July had awarded nearly $4.7 billion in total damages to 22 women and their families after they claimed that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer in the first case against the company that focused on asbestos in the powder.
Navneet Marwaha, State Drug Controller, Himachal Pradesh told The Indian Express: “It was a joint operation conducted by State Drug Control department and CDSCO. Our teams collected samples of talcum powder from Johnson & Johnson plant in Baddi today. The samples are in the custody of CDSCO and they shall be sending it to their testing laboratory. Instructions to collect the samples were given by Government of India. Since, it the unit is located in our state, we jointly did the collection with CDSCO. I believe, the samples are collected across the country, wherever Johnson & Johnson have their plants.”
Marwaha, who is posted in Baddi, added, “Generally, the laboratory is supposed to send the report on the samples within 60 days. But since it is a sensitive case, we are expecting the laboratory’s report within a week”.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the firm said: “Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is asbestos free and does not cause cancer. We have scientific evidence to prove that our talcum powder is safe and beneficial to use. The facts about the science of talcum powder can be found on the website http://www.factsabouttalc.com.”
“It is important to understand that the safety of cosmetic talc is based on a long history of safe use and decades of research and clinical evidence by independent researchers and scientific review boards across the world. In the past authorities in India like the FDAs and the CDSCO have confirmed that our products comply with Indian standards and are free of asbestos,” the spokesperson added.