Cancer risk report fallout: Johnson & Johnson baby powder samples seized in India

Johnson & Johnson baby powder samples seized in Himachal Pradesh

India’s central drug regulator CDSCO has seized samples of Johnson & Johnson baby powder from the firm’s plant in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh, Reuters reported today citing an industry source.

It was Reuters, a London-based newswire, that revealed how Johnson & Johnson’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of (cancer-causing) asbestos for decades, in an article published last week. (Read it here.)

Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) market value has plummeted since the report came out.

The firm has described it as “one-sided, false and inflammatory”.

Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is safe and asbestos free…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.

– Johnson & Johnson statement

J&J India didn’t have any immediate comment on Tuesday’s seizure of samples in Himachal Pradesh, and a CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation) spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment, Reuters said.

The fallout isn’t limited to Himachal Pradesh. Surendranath Sai, a drug officer in Telangana, has said he’s instructed inspectors to seize samples there.

On the basis of the news report, we are alerting staff to pick up samples. We will test them in a drug control lab here…We will take action accordingly. Certainly we are worried because millions of babies may be affected.

– Surendranath Sai, drug officer in Telangana

The Times of India has quoted an official source as saying 100 drug inspectors have assigned to examine different manufacturing facilities, wholesalers and distributors linked to J&J India — starting early on December 19.