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Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Sample Seized On Cancer Causing Asbestos Report

Samples of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder have been seized by drug inspectors from a factory in Himachal Pradesh.

Tooba Maher

Samples of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder have been seized by drug inspectors from a factory in Himachal Pradesh.

An industry source said that the firm knew for decades that cancer-causing asbestos lurked in the product.A person not wishing to be identified, said “The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) took samples from the firm's Baddi plant on Tuesday.”

However, J&J India did not have any immediate comment on the seizure. A CDSCO spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.But on Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson commented on the Reuters article, published calling it "one-sided, false and inflammatory."

The U.S. company said, "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."

Surendranath Sai, a Regional Drug Officer in Telangana said, “He had 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 and will take action accordingly. Certainly we are worried because millions of babies may be affected."

The Times of India also quoted earlier that 100 drug inspectors had been assigned to examine different manufacturing facilities, wholesalers and distributors linked to J&J India, starting early on Wednesday.

A Health Ministry Spokeswoman declined to comment and a Senior Official at the ministry said the report was worrying. The official told Reuters, "We are concerned about it and will take action."

On Tuesday, a CDSCO spokeswoman said the Reuters report was "under consideration" but it was too early to say whether a formal investigation would be launched into the baby powder that is ubiquitous in India, a country of 1.3 billion people.

A Reuters examination of company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents, deposition and trial testimony showed that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, Johnson & Johnson's raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.

The company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.

The documents also depicted successful efforts to influence U.S. regulators plans regarding limiting asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on talc's health effects.

Johnson & Johnson said that it planned to buy back up to $5 billion of its stock, after $40 billion was wiped from its market value following the report.

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