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19 Dec, 2018 13:20

India's drug regulators to test J&J's baby powder after claims it contains cancer-causing asbestos

India's drug regulators to test J&J's baby powder after claims it contains cancer-causing asbestos

Drug authorities in India have reportedly visited Johnson & Johnson factories in the country to take samples of its baby powder for testing. The firm has been accused of having asbestos in its talc products that may cause cancer.

Officials from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) and state-based food and drug administrations (FDA) inspected several facilities of the US-based company in India on Tuesday. The staff, reportedly at least 100 drug inspectors, were deployed to pick up samples after Reuters investigation indicated that Johnson & Johnson worked for decades to conceal that their talcum baby powder contained asbestos.

The story was initially reported by The Times of India and The Mint business daily and the company later confirmed to Reuters that “a few” facilities were visited by the authorities. RT reached out to the company and the Indian regulator for comment on Wednesday but has not received their response so far.

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“We are fully co-operating with them by providing tests and samples,” the J&J statement said. The company also rebuked that the visits were “raids” or “seizures” as the tests “have been conducted in the regular way that the FDA collects samples.”

Earlier, a spokeswoman for the CDSCO named by Reuters as K. Bangarurajan told the agency that its findings were “under consideration,” but added it was too early to say if a formal investigation would be launched into the baby powder. She added that during tests in 2016 nothing unusual or hazardous was found and they were complying with Indian standards.

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Last week's report claimed that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, but the company’s staff, including its executives, failed to disclose it to regulators or the public.

J&J firmly denied the allegations and insisted that the product is safe citing “thousands of independent tests.” It called the Reuters article “one-sided, false and inflammatory.”

After the story broke J&J shares suffered the biggest loss in 15 years. On Friday company stock plunged nearly 10 percent trading at $130 per share and the price has not changed much since then.

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