Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Bangladesh fails to test Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder for asbestos

  • Faysal Atik, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-02-04 03:17:51 BdST

The Bangladesh authorities have failed to test in local laboratories Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder for alleged cancer-causing asbestos.

Now, before weighing the option of sending samples to Singapore, the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution or BSTI is waiting for the report of the tests India is conducting.

Reazul Haque, an assistant director at BSTI Certification Marks Inspectorate, said they have sent the samples of the powder to the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, ICDDR,B, and some other laboratories as the BSTI does not have the capability to conduct the tests.  

ICDDR,B had earlier said it did not have the capability to conduct the test while the BCSIR recently said it was not possible for it to test the presence of cancer-causing asbestos in the powder, Reazul said.

Asked whether the move to test the powder will stop now, the BSTI official said they would have to go through a long procedure to send the samples to Singapore or any other country for the tests.

“It’s a time-consuming process. We also want to see first what results the laboratories in India give in their report,” he added.

Bangladesh will not ban Baby Powder sales before learning about the results of the sample tests, SM Ishaq Ali, a director at the BSTI, had earlier told bdnews24.com.

Whether asbestos in the talc supply in J&J Baby Powder caused cancer has been the subject of litigation for years in the US.

One of the most recognised foreign brands, Baby Powder came under further scrutiny after Reuters published a report citing internal documents that showed the company knew for decades the presence of the mineral in its product.

India's drugs regulator has ordered J&J to stop manufacturing Baby Powder using raw materials in two of its Indian factories until test results prove they are free of asbestos.

Sri Lanka has also banned imports of the product pending asbestos tests.

In Bangladesh, MF Consumers is the importer of the Baby Powder and other famous products of Johnson and Johnson. The Bangladeshi firm imports the powder from the Johnson and Johnson plants in India.

Facing questions over the safety and standards of the product, a spokesperson for MF Consumers said tests were a positive move.

BABY POWDER IS ‘SAFE’, J&J CLAIMS

In an email response to bdnews24.com queries, the Indian chapter of Johnson and Johnson claimed the company’s Baby Powder is “asbestos free and does not cause cancer”.

A spokesperson for the firm also claimed it has “scientific evidence to prove that our talcum powder is safe and beneficial to use”.

“It is important to understand that the safety of cosmetic talc is based on a long history of safe use and decades of research and clinical evidence by independent researchers and scientific review boards across the world. In the past authorities in India like the FDAs and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) have confirmed that our products comply with Indian standards and are free of asbestos.”

“We unequivocally stand by the safety of our products, are fully compliant with regulatory standards and requirements in India and will continue to work with the regulatory authorities," Johnson and Johnson added.