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India to re-test Johnson & Johnson baby powder samples, after firm recalls batch in US

Last week, US Food and Drug Administration issued an alert that a particular lot of J&J’s baby powder had tested positive for asbestos — a carcinogen.

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New Delhi:  The Narendra Modi government is all set to examine samples of Johnson & Johnson’s baby talcum powder once again, in the wake of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issuing an alert that a particular lot of the product contained asbestos — a known carcinogen. 

“We have taken note of the findings by the US FDA and voluntary recall of that particular batch of Baby Talcum Powder by Johnson & Johnson in the US. We will re-examine the issue, based on the latest findings where FDA has found asbestos of 0.00002 per cent  in the talcum powder,” Dr S. Eswara Reddy, Joint Drugs Controller, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), Ministry of Health, told ThePrint. 

“Earlier we had tested the talcum powder samples last year and found them complying with standards,” he added. 

While the government hasn’t drawn any product samples yet, it is likely to start the process soon. 

The FDA alert issued last week urged American consumers to not use J&J baby powder product from the particular lot that tested positive for asbestos.

Asbestos has been linked to a rare type of cancer called mesothelioma. 

Also read: India issues warning about US-made insulin pumps that can be controlled by hackers

Company under scanner for second time in a year 

This the second time in less than a year that J&J’s talcum powders are under the scanner.  Last year, in December 2018, American health regulators launched a probe after an investigation by Reuters alleged that the 130-year-old American pharma giant was aware that its talcum powders, including the baby powder, contained asbestos.

The same month, the Drug Controller General of India — the apex body to regulate quality of cosmetics and drugs in India — ordered the J&J to halt the manufacture of its baby powder at its Mumbai and Himachal Pradesh plants to test the raw material for safety.

However, in March this year, the company resumed production in India.  

Also read: Explained: Why India, US haven’t recalled acidity drug Ranitidine but France & Canada have

J&J recalls baby powder batch in US 

Acting on the alert, the American multinational for the first time recalled the baby powder — only the affected batch — from the US market. It recalled around 33,000 bottles of baby powder from the US market.

The company said it has a “rigorous testing standard in place to ensure its cosmetic talc is safe and years of testing, including the FDA’s own testing on prior occasions — and as recently as last month — found no asbestos”.

“Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos,” it added in a statement. “Not only do we and our suppliers routinely test to ensure our talc does not contain asbestos, our talc has also been tested and confirmed to be asbestos-free by a range of independent laboratories, universities and global health authorities.” 

Also read: US censures Gujarat-based Torrent Pharma for inferior quality medicines


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