Maharashtra FDA to test J&J talcum powder for carcinogens

The Maharashtra Food and Drugs Administration on Wednesday sent samples of Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder for laboratory testing, a weak after a US jury ordered the cosmetics giant to pay a compensation of $72 million to the family of a woman who won a legal battle against the company.

The FDA is reported to have collected samples of `Shower to Shower', `Dermicool', `Ponds' and `Nycil' talcum powder brands besides J&J's from across Maharashtra and sent them to the laboratory to check if they follow the rules laid down under the Drug and Cosmetic Act.

The FDA said the test is important to determine the presence of heavy metals in the talcum powder, which may have carcinogenic properties.

''We have collected the samples of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and sent them for laboratory tests. This is a precautionary measure after the US incident. We also have held talks with the company's officials,'' FDA commissioner Harshdeep Kamble said.

This is the second time that J & J's products are coming under quality scrutiny, since Maharashtra banned the product in 2012 after the FDA investigation revealed that the company used ethylene oxide to kill bacteria in Baby Powder. Ethylene oxide is used to produce industrial chemicals and sterilise medical equipment,

It was found that the company had also not conducted mandatory tests to make sure there were no remaining trace in the powder.

It is mandatory for a company to inform the FDA on the process they are adopting for sterilisation. J&J had not informed that they were going to sterilise the Baby Powder using ethylene oxide, which can cause cancer.

The Bombay High Court had lifted the ban in 2013 and allowed the company to resume production.

Meanwhile, a US jury on 2 March ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million to the family of a woman who claimed her death was linked to use of the Baby Powder she used for decades. Jackie Fox, 62, had died of ovarian cancer in 2015. Her family had argued in the court that the company knew of talc risks, but failed to warn users.

Various health and consumer groups had earlier also voices concern over the healthcare giant's unhealthy practices of using possibly harmful ingredients in its products, including its popular Johnson's `No More Tears' baby shampoo, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In May 2009, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of various health groups based in the US, had asked J&J to eliminate questionable ingredients from its baby and adult personal care products.