[Johnson & Johnson license cancellation] Consumer health and welfare top priority: Maharashtra to Bombay High Court

The government told the Court that the company cannot be permitted to manufacture its baby powder without assuring the authorities of the quality of a product used on children
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson

Health and welfare of the consumer is most important, the Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Thursday justifying it decision to cancel the manufacturing license of Johnson & Johnson baby powder in the State.

In its affidavit filed before the Court, the State said that it will be gross failure on its part if it fails to enforce the statutory provisions under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules meant to safeguard the health of people. 

“It is submitted that the health and welfare of people / consumers is to be the highest while examining the cosmetics products in the instant case. It is statutory duty apart form the moral responsibilities of the petitioner to manufacture and supply the product that are absolutely safe for the consumers particularly infant babies in this case,” the affidavit said. 

Johnson &Johnson without assuring the quality of their baby powder till its final use, cannot manufacture product for sale as per norms, the government said. 

The affidavit was filed by the State through the Assistant Commissioner, Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) opposing the petition filed by Johnson & Johnson challenging the cancellation of license to manufacture cosmetic product at a facility in Maharashtra.

The FDA officer pointed out that the samples of baby powder sent for testing from two different samples were reported to be “not of standard quality” as the pH was of 8.42. This conclusion had been upheld by the Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) at Kolkata which was considered as conclusive evidence as per the Act. 

The affidavit refuted claims by Johnson & Johnson that pH values did not impact the health of the consumer. 

“Action by the FDA authorities is more concerned with public health at large, and nothing else matters when it comes to public health at large,” the officer underscored. 

A bench of Justices SV Gangpurwala and SG Dige on Thursday asked the State whether it had tested more samples from the same batch of baby powder which was under challenge in the petition, or from any other batch.

Additional government pleader Milind More told the Court that he will take instructions on the same and apprise the the Court about it on Monday.

The petition filed by Johnson and Johnson has stated that the license was cancelled by the State despite having provided stability reports and test reports of the latest batches of the talcum powder. 

The company had also allegedly assured that it would submit pH reports of the product. 

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