The Tamil Nadu State Commission for Protection of Child Rights will be conducting tests of samples of Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo and talcum powder across all districts for carcinogenic substances.
The panel has initiated the process after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) asked state counterparts to test the products and called for a ban on their sale.
“Our members are coordinating with the authorities concerned. We will complete collecting samples from all districts by the end of the month and send them for testing,” said M P Nirmala, chairperson of the state commission.
The issue was taken up last month after the NCPR received a report from the Rajasthan Government. The findings in the report led the Government Analyst Drug Testing Laboratory in Jaipur stated that the shampoo of Johnson & Johnson was ‘not of standard quality’, since they found traces of formaldehyde in it. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen which poses grave threat to human life.
After the report was received, NCPCR wrote to state bodies to collect samples and conduct tests of the products for the presence of toxic elements. The company, however, maintained that the products were safe and in compliance with the regulatory standards.
Members of the child rights body said the ban could not be implemented yet since the products have been sent for re-testing at the Central Drugs Laboratory, and both the authorities and the company were awaiting results.
“We have asked all the child rights bodies to gather reports so that we can take action accordingly,” said R G Anand, member of NCPCR.
While the product continues to be sold despite NCPCR’s order to stop sales until further notice, the state commissions are speeding up their process.
The NCPCR had earlier sought sample test of Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo and talcum powder from five states — Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam. The commission had directed the authorities concerned in those states to conduct tests of the products after the report indicated presence of carcinogenic substances.
“But this time, we have informed all states and are regularly in touch with our members, monitoring their functions. The sooner we get samples, the sooner we will test them. We are concerned about the children who use these products on a daily basis,” said Anand.
Meanwhile Johnson & Johnson has refuted all allegations. “We did not accept the interim results of the Government Analyst that were based on unknown and unspecified methods and have contested these interim test results. We will await the results and conclusions of the re-testing process at the Central Drugs Laboratory. We are not aware of any directions from NCPCR. It must be noted that any such directions, under the law, can only be issued under certain prescribed conditions,” a company spokesperson said.
“Johnson & Johnson is in full compliance with current Indian regulatory requirements and standards for manufacturing and testing of all our products. We have confirmed to the Indian authorities that we do not add Formaldehyde as an ingredient in our shampoo nor does Johnson’s baby shampoo contain any ingredient that can release formaldehyde over time. Our products are safe to use and conform to all applicable standard under the D&C Act and D&C rules. We unequivocally maintain that our products are safe, and our assurance process is amongst the most rigorous in the world, meeting or exceeding the safety standards in every country where our products are sold,” statement further added.