Indian drug regulator may revive probe to J&J's baby powder: Reuters
18 December 2018
India’s national drug regulator, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), is reported to have announced plans to follow up on allegations that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was aware of the presence of cancer-causing asbestos in its baby powder.
A Reuters report quoting a CDSCO spokeswoman said the regulator has not yet decided on a formal investigation into the baby powder that is in use in many Indian homes.
The report also quoted another senior CDSCO official K Bangarurajan as saying that powder samples tested earlier proved nothing wrong 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.” He was quoted as saying
The reports also said the government has not contacted the drug maker on the basis of the recent report, which, it said, “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.
Reuters said its report on Friday was based on examination of many company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents, as well as deposition and trial testimony, from 1971 to the early 2000s. It said J&J’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, but company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers failed to disclose it to regulators or the public.
It also spoke of successful efforts to influence US regulators’ plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on the health effects of talc.
The Reuters report said most of the documents produced at trial were shielded from public view by court orders that allowed J&J to turn over thousands of documents it designated as confidential.
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.