Johnson’s powder halted on media reports

The halting of the renewal of the license of A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd. to import Johnson & Johnson’s baby talc by Sri Lankan authorities was based purely on international media reports, and not any scientific findings made locally, The Sunday Morning Business learnt.

Reliable sources confirmed that this was the reason the existing stocks of the product had not been withdrawn from stores as consumers were not in any immediate danger.

The license for A. Baur & Co to import the product expired in December last year and the re-registration had been held by the National Medicine Regulatory Authority (NMRA) until test results were received from India.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, Johnson & Johnson India Company Spokesperson said that the interim stay was a routine licensing procedure.

“During this routine process, the Sri Lankan authorities expressed that they would await the Indian Government test results prior to finalising.”

According to the NMRA procedures, a re-registration application should be submitted to the NMRA six months prior to the expiration date, giving the authority sufficient time to process the applications. However, Baurs failed to submit it on time.

Upon the submission of reports which certify the quality standards of the talc and the renewal of the import registration, Baur would be allowed to continue importing the powder.

However, already imported baby powder will be allowed to be sold in the country as existence of cancer-causing substances or asbestos in them have not been proven yet.

The Johnson & Johnson India Spokesperson stated that their talc was routinely evaluated using a sophisticated battery of tests designed to ensure compliance with all global standards.

According to the Spokesperson, Johnson & Johnson India prioritises consumer safety and is fully compliant with regulatory standards and works continuously with health authorities to demonstrate that their products are safe to use.

“Indian authorities such as the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) regularly test samples and have previously confirmed that our talc products are free of asbestos.”

Furthermore, the Spokesperson said that over the past 50 years, multiple independent, non-litigation-driven scientific evaluations that have been conducted by government bodies including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have found the talc in Johnson & Johnson baby powder to be free from asbestos.

According to international sources, last year, Johnson & Johnson paid $ 4.7 billion to 22 women who alleged the company’s baby powder had caused them to develop ovarian cancer, with six of the women eventually dying from the disease.

Johnson & Johnson, at the moment, deals with over 11,000 complainants contending their baby powder and Shower to Shower products developed cancer. A website on asbestos expected this number to double in 2019.