Mumbai, March 23: The Johnson & Johnson controversy took a new turn today with an apex body of chemists and druggists threatening to send back nine of the company's products if these had been misbranded.
The nine products branded as baby-care items are currently under the scanner of the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
'We have asked the FDA authorities to send us a copy of their showcause notice to Johnson & Johnson. According to the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, we cannot stock misbranded products and have to send them back to the manufacturer,' said Jai Shinde, general secretary, All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists.
'We will take a decision on receiving the FDA notice,' he added.
Yesterday, the Retailers and Dispensing Chemists Association (RDCA) had sent a seven-day notice to the company asking it to clarify if the products were wrongly branded as baby-care items.
The RDCA warned of a public interest litigation if the company did not give a satisfactory explanation for the use of light liquid paraffin, a mineral oil.
Both organisations are powerful apex bodies representing over 550,000 retail chemists in the country. Their decision could directly affect the sales of Johnson's baby products.
'Legal action can be taken against chemists and druggists under the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act if misbranded products are found stocked with us. We have to give protection to our members,' Shinde said.
The FDA had last week sent a 15-day show-cause notice to Johnson & Johnson India for selling oils, shampoos and creams as baby products without the mandatory clearance. The Indian subsidiary of the US multinational is yet to reply but had issued statements denying the charge.
Johnson & Johnson's products have come under scrutiny in China, too, where the health ministry is making its own investigations, reports PTI, quoting Xinhua news agency's website. A statement from the company's Chinese headquarters said it was following government norms.