J&J under pressure to prove product safety in India

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

J&J under pressure to prove product safety in India
Johnson & Johnson is facing pressure in India after losing two recent high-profile lawsuits in the US from women who blame its talcum products for their development of ovarian cancer.

The recent cases are just two of well over one thousand lawsuits currently in process against J&J in America, claiming that the company failed to warn consumers adequately about the carcinogenic risk associated with long-term talc use.

The consumer goods multinational has spoken out against the verdicts so far, most recently stating: “the verdict contradicted 30 years of research supporting the safety of cosmetic talc. [...] Multiple scientific and regulatory reviews have determined that the talc is safe for use in cosmetic products and the labelling on Johnson’s Baby Powder is appropriate.​”

However, it seems that the pressure is now mounting globally: GN Singh, India’s Drug Controller General, has reportedly requested that J&J now proves the safety of its products in the country, and is considering adjusting regulatory standards for the talc sector more widely.

Talc changes

According to the most recent report from Merchant Research and Consulting, India is the second biggest producer of talc, behind China and ahead of the US, meaning the country will be watching the development of J&J’s lawsuits closely.

Speaking to the Hindu Business Line​, Singh made clear that the government is keen to show it’s responding to the unfolding situation.

We have asked the Bureau of Indian Standards to look into the safety data of talcum powders across the sector and have asked them to set the standards. As a regulator, we are seriously considering putting into place cautionary labels for such products​,” the regulatory official confirmed.

Although contacted, the Bureau of Indian Standards did not respond for comment before publication deadline for this article.

Previous cases

Last week, J&J was ordered to pay USD 55 million to Gloria Ristesund, who following her successful claim that the company’s feminine hygiene talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer.

It followed a similar ruling in February which ordered the company to pay USD 72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died of ovarian cancer the preceding October; $10m in compensatory damages and $62m in punitive damages.

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