Johnson faces threat of losing baby

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  • Published 16.03.05

Mumbai, March 16: Johnson & Johnson, the maker of a wide range of baby-care items, was today asked by Maharashtra?s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove the word ?baby? from some of these products.

In a notice to the Indian arm of the New Jersey-headquartered multinational, the FDA said the company was selling normal cosmetics as specially meant for babies without proper clearances.

Top officials at Johnson?s office at Forgett Street were unavailable for comment. ?We have received the notice today. We are examining the details. The FDA has asked us for clarifications about our products. We would not like to comment at this juncture,? said Anil Upadhyay, in charge of the company?s legal department.

Last year, the same FDA had hauled up another multinational, Cadbury India, after complaints about worms being found in its Dairy Milk chocolates.

In the show-cause to the company sent today, the FDA named nine products, including body and hair oils, cream, soap and shampoo, where, it said, it had found no specific ingredient with special application for babies. It did not have any complaint against the products as such, if the word ?baby? was taken out.

?We have asked the company to remove the word ?baby? from these products. They contain substances present in normal cosmetics meant for adults, but they are being sold in the market as baby products. This is misleading,? FDA commissioner N. Ramakrishnan said.

A blurb for baby products on Johnson & Johnson India?s website says: ?The language of love, the world over: The vision of Johnson?s Baby is to partner with every mother around the world to provide her baby with a happy, healthy start in life.?

Based on a complaint from a customer, FDA teams tested the products in the laboratory, and found that they had 99.7 per cent light liquid paraffin, a mineral oil, and traces of Vitamin E (0.1 per cent), Vitamin A (1 per cent) and Vitamin D (0.15 per cent).

?Babies, especially newborns, have sensitive skin, and the use of mineral oil in a product targeted at babies may not be suitable,? said H.D. Salunkhe, joint commissioner of the FDA.

The show-cause notice said these products are neither patented nor registered as baby products with the Drugs Controller of India. This is a violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, it added, asking the company to show reasons why action should not be taken against it under the law.

The notice pointed out that Johnson has been licensed to manufacture cosmetic products under Form 32 and 32A of the act. But it does not possess trademark registration for manufacturing baby products nor has the company clinically tested the products on babies.

It said the data submitted by the company on March 14 showed that Johnson?s Baby Oil was tested on people in the age group 19 to 58.

The company has been asked to reply in 15 days.

The FDA commissioner indicated that the watchdog would send notices to other companies for what it considers similar infringements.

?There are coconut hair oils with very little coconut content, and sandalwood soaps with little or no sandalwood. We plan to take up the issue with such companies,? said Ramakrishnan.