NEW DELHI: After Johnson & Johnson, other brands of infant care products including Himalaya and Chicco have come under the regulatory scanner. The drug regulator has picked up over 200 samples of various talcum powders, soaps, shampoos and other baby products to check compliance and safety, official sources said.
However, the main focus of the investigation is to ascertain that all talcum powder brands in the market are safe and do not contain asbestos, the official told TOI.
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) – the country’s top drug regulator – has collected around 150 samples of talcum powder and another 50 samples of other infant care products such as baby shampoo, cream, lotion and soap. Apart from the samples of finished products, the regulator has also collected around 14 samples of raw material, mainly talc, used in making these products.
All the samples have been sent for testing to one of the central testing laboratory with specialisation in testing cosmetics.
“We want to ensure that not only J&J’s but all the baby products available in Indian markets are safe and asbestos free. Therefore, after collecting samples from J&J during site inspections, we decided to test samples of other brands of baby products too,” the official said, adding the test reports for the samples are expected within next 15 days.
Earlier in December, the drug regulator conducted raids on factories of J&J in Baddi and Mumbai and collected samples of finished products and raw material after reports in the US alleged that J&J’s powder contains “cancer-causing” asbestos and that the American company may have known this since 1971.
Following the inspections, the Indian regulator also issued prohibitory orders to J&J’s two factories asking the company to not use the talc raw material available in the units for any production till further order. It had also expanded the scope of investigation to cover the company’s iconic brands of baby shampoo and soap.
In July, 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.
Though J&J maintains its products are “safe and asbestos free”, the allegations triggered a fresh investigation in India with the regulator inspecting facilities as well as collecting samples of not just powder but also various other products from the retail market, distributors and wholesalers to test for asbestos and other compliance as per the Indian standards.
At present, the company is facing more than 9,000 cases over body powder containing talc and has consistently denied that its products are dangerous or contain asbestos.