Rajasthan’s drug controller has found formaldehyde in two batches of Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo, and has warned against their consumption, The Indian Express reported on Monday. Formaldehyde is known to be a carcinogen. The company has disputed the test results.
In a notice to drug control officers on March 5, the Rajasthan Drugs Control Organisation said the samples of the two batches “contain harmful ingredients” and were “not of standard quality”. The batches, manufactured in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh, will expire in September 2021.
The notice asked officers to ensure that the shampoo’s stocks “are not consumed anymore and appropriate safeguard to the consumers is provided by withdrawing the available stock”. It also urged action under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. An unidentified official of the Rajasthan drug controller told Mint that action will be taken under the law after the company replies.
“We have found a higher amount [than stated by the company] of formaldehyde in J&J’s shampoos and the company has been informed about the abnormality,” Rajasthan drug controller Raja Ram Sharma told ThePrint.
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation said it will examine the matter closely. “We will monitor movement of such type of products in the market,” Drug Controller General of India Eswara Reddy told The Indian Express.
A spokesperson for the company claimed its products are safe and comply with Indian laws. “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,” the spokesperson said.
“We have contested the interim test results of the government analysis that were based on unknown and unspecified methods,” the spokesperson said. “The government did not disclose the test methods, details or any quantitative findings. This is concerning especially when there is no prescribed test method or requirement for testing formaldehyde in shampoo under the applicable standards.”
The samples have been sent for re-testing, the spokesperson said.
On March 13, a United States jury had ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $29 million (Rs 202 crore) to a woman diagnosed with cancer, who alleged that the asbestos in the firm’s talcum-powder-based products caused her disease. The pharmaceutical firm is also embroiled in a case involving faulty hip implants.