जॉनसन एंड जॉनसन के खिलाफ़ NHRC में शिकायत, कंपनी ने माना बेबी पाउडर में एस्बेस्टस है


बच्चों को गोरा और मुलायम बनाने के लिए आम तौर से सभी मध्यवर्गीय परिवारों में इस्तेमाल किये जाने वाले जानसन्स बेबी पाउडर को बनाने वाली कम्पनी जॉनसन एंड जॉनसन आगामी कुछ दिनों में इसकी बिक्री कनाडा और अमेरिका के बाज़ारों में बंद कर रही है। कम्पनी ने माना है कि इस टैलकम पाउडर में एस्बेस्टस होता है जो कैंसर सहित तमाम रोगों का वाहक है। दिलचस्प यह है कि भारत के बाजार के बारे में कंपनी ने इसकी बिक्री रोकने की बात नहीं कही है। इसी मुद्दे को लेकर राष्ट्रीय मानवाधिकार आयोग में कम्पनी की दोहरी नीति के खिलाफ़ एक याचिका डाली गयी है।

याचिकाकर्ता टॉक्सिक्स वॉच अलायंस के कार्यकर्ता डॉ. गोपाल कृष्ण हैं। उन्होंने मंगलवार को राष्ट्रीय मानवाधिकार आयोग को एक लंबा पत्र लिखते हुए जॉनसन एंड जॉनसन कंपनी की भारत में जनस्वास्थ्य के सम्बंध में दोहरी नीति के खिलाफ़ शिकायत की है।

जॉनसन एंड जॉनसन ने बीती 19 तारीख को एक आधिकारिक वक्तव्य जारी कर के बेबी पाउडर अमेरिका और कनाडा के बाजारों से वापस लेने की बात कही है, जिसका उद्देश्य वहां के नागरिकों की स्वास्थ्य सुरक्षा और मानवाधिकारों की सुरक्षा है। कंपनी ने अपने वक्तव्य में कहा है दुकानों पर जो मौजूदा माल है उसके खत्म हो जाने के बाद कंपनी यूएस और कनाडा में जॉनसन्स बेबी पाउडर की व्यावसायिक बिक्री बंद कर देगी।

कंपनी का पूरा वक्तव्य यहां पढ़ा जा सकता है। इस बारे में न्यूयॉर्क टाइम्स ने भी ख़बर की है।

डॉ. गोपाल कृष्ण ने पत्र में कंपनी के हवाले से लिखा है कि विश्व स्वास्थ्य संगठन (डब्लूएचओ) की इंटरनेशनल एजेंसी फॉर कैंसर रिसर्च ने इस टैलकम पाउडर में एस्बेस्टस के होने की पुष्टि की है। यह आइएआरसी के एक मोनोग्राफ में वर्णित है जो मनुष्य में कैंसर के खतरे से जुड़ा है। टैल्क में मौजूद एस्बेस्टस महिलाओं के स्वास्थ्य पर प्रतिकूल असर डालता है।

डब्लूएचओ ने पुष्टि की है कि हर किस्म का एस्बेस्टस फेफड़े के कैंसर, मैसोथेलियोमा, लैरिंक्स और ओवरी के कैंसर तथा एस्बेस्टोसिस को जन्म देता है। इस अध्ययन को यहां देखा जा सकता है।

पत्र में आयोग से अनुरोध किया गया है कि कंपनी के कारखानों में काम कर रहे लोगों और कारखानों के निकट बसी आबादी का पर्यावरणीय व स्वास्थ्य आडिट करवाया जाए जिससे उपभाेक्ताओं पर पाउडर में शामिल एस्बेस्टस का प्रभाव पता लग सके।

पत्र एक खाेजी रपट की ओर भी संकेत करता है। यह अध्ययन रायटर्स न्यूज़ एजेंसी ने 2018 में किया था जिसमें बताया गया था कि जॉनसन्स बेबी पाउडर में एस्बेस्टस है यह बात जॉनसन एंड लॉनसन कम्पनी को दशकों से पता थी। इस सम्बंध में भारत में आइआइटीआर ने भी एक शाेध किया है जो रायटर्स की रिपोर्ट की पुष्टि करता है।

आयोग को डॉ. गोपाल कृष्ण का भेजा पत्र काफी लम्बा है। उसे अंग्रेज़ी में नीचे पढ़ा जा सकता है।


To

Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
Manav Adhikar Bhawan
Block-C, GPO Complex, INA,
New Delhi – 110023

Date: May 26, 2020

Subject- Doublespeak and Double Standards of Johnson & Johnson cause of ongoing exposure of Indians to hazardous asbestos mineral fibers contaminated Talcum Powder

Sir,

This is to draw your immediate attention towards the announcement

dated May 19, 2020 by Johnson & Johnson, a multinational company

headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA stating that it will

discontinue sale of its Talcum Powder products in North America. This

announcement is aimed at safeguarding the health and human rights of

residents and citizens of North America but not the residents and

citizens of India. Such doublespeak and double standard in matters of

public health in general and children’s health in particular merits

the urgent intervention of the Commission. (Reference: Statement of

Johnson & Johnson, May 19, 2020,

https://www.jnj.com/our-company/johnson-johnson-consumer-health-announces-discontinuation-of-talc-based-johnsons-baby-powder-in-u-s-and-canada)

We wish to point out that “the Company will wind down the

commercialization of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the U.S. and

Canada in the coming months. Existing inventory will continue to be

sold through retailers until it runs out.” The news report titled

Johnson & Johnson to End Talc-Based Baby Powder Sales in North America

published in The New York Times merits attention as well. (Reference:

Tiffany Hsu and Roni Caryn Rabin, May 19, 2020,

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/19/business/johnson-baby-powder-sales-stopped.html).

We submit that Word Health Organisation (WHO)’s International Agency

for Cancer Research (IARC) has recognized presence of asbestos in

talcum powder. IARC Monograph on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks

to Humans on Carbon Black, Titanium Dioxide, and Talc (2010) refers to

the presence of asbestos in talcum powder. It also refers to “Use of

talc for feminine hygiene”. The use of body powder for feminine

hygiene can be estimated from the prevalence reported for controls in

case–control studies that investigated the association between the use

of cosmetic talc for feminine hygiene and the risk for ovarian cancer.

It refers to exposure to respirable dust during the use of talcum

powders on the face, body and babies. Talc is used as a surface

lubricant on the majority of condoms manufactured; contact with

condoms may also represent a direct means of exposure of the female

genital tract to talc. Exposure to talc can also occur during surgical

procedures when using powdered gloves. Talc particles were observed in

the navels of small children, in the testes, on the vocal cords, in

the urinary bladder tract and after removal of varicous veins. Besides

this the Food Chemical Codex (2003) provides specifications for

food-grade talc, including the statement that “talc derived from

deposits that are known to contain associated asbestos is not food

grade.” Under the voluntary guidelines initiated in 1976, the

Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association stated that all

cosmetic talc should contain at least 90% platy talc (hydrated

magnesium silicate) that is free from detectable amounts of fibrous,

asbestos minerals. Meanwhile, some 67 countries have banned all kinds

of asbestos. World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommendations have

established the infectious nature of Covid-19, the same WHO has

underlined that “All types of asbestos cause lung cancer,

mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis

of the lungs).” (Reference:

https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/asbestos/en/ and

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/asbestos-elimination-of-asbestos-related-diseases)

We submit that the Commission. must recomme      nd the enviro-occupational

health audit of the workers who handle asbestos laden talcum powder in

the manufacturing facilities of talcum powder products in general

besides the health audit of the communities who are in the vicinity of

such factories and recommend adequate compensation for those who are

exposed to the carcinogenic mineral fibers and are suffering from

asbestos related diseases. This will be also relevant for assessing

the harm which the unsuspecting consumers continue to face. These

consumers include all judges, legislators, officials, their children

and grandchildren and the residents of India.

Earlier, an investigative report titled “Johnson & Johnson knew for

decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder” was published on

December, 14, 2018 which too is relevant for protecting the human

rights of Indians. The investigation was conducted by Reuters, a 167

year old international news agency headquartered in London. This

investigative report is consistent with the findings of a study by

India’s Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (IITR), Lucknow, a

constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research

(CSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India on

“Exposure risk to contaminants in pharmaceutical and cosmetic powders”

has found that “There are different types of cosmetic powders such as

body powder, baby powder, face powder, eye shadow and powdered blush

as well as pharmaceutical powders available in the market. Both the

sexes of all age groups are using these powders. These are talc –

based. Talc is a mineral product and often contaminated with asbestos

fibres.”

The aim of the IITR study “was to investigate the safety of such

powders being sold in the market, initially by analyzing the asbestos

content. Five branded samples of talcum powder were analysed and all

were found contaminated with asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibre

contamination in these powders ranged from 10.3 – 15.4%. Fibre length

study on two samples revealed that asbestos fibres were 22.8 – 34.7%,

48.2 – 55.1% and 17.1 – 22.1% in the range of <10µm, 10 – 20µm, and >

20µm, respectively. The study indicates risk of human exposure to

asbestos through the use of naturally contaminated talcum powder. It

is noteworthy that asbestos takes many years to cause asbestosis and

carcinogenic malignancies which are irreversible. It also necessitates

a regular monitoring and surveillance on all the cosmetic and

pharmaceutical powders being marketed for asbestos contamination.”

This has been published in the Annual Report Annual Report 2005-2006

of IITR. IITR is accredited by National Accreditation Board for

Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for chemical and

biological testing and is recognized for GLP (Good Laboratory

Practice) toxicity testing. (Reference:

http://www.itrcindia.org/ITRC_Annual_Report_2005-06.pdf )

The investigation by Reuters corroborates the findings of IITR. This

recent investigation was undertaken in the wake of three verdicts in

New Jersey, California and St. Louis awarding compensation to

plaintiffs who blamed asbestos-tainted Johnson & Johnson talc products

for their mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops from the thin

layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs. The

connection between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma was discovered

in the 1970s. The third verdict was a watershed in in St. Louis: The

22 plaintiffs were the first to succeed with a claim that

asbestos-tainted Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talc, a longtime

brand the company sold in 2012 that caused ovarian cancer, which is

much more common than mesothelioma. The jury awarded them $4.69

billion in damages. Most of the talc cases have been brought by women

with ovarian cancer who say they regularly used Johnson and Johnson

talc products as a perineal antiperspirant and deodorant. The

inclusion of ovarian cancer besides mesothelioma has broadened the

potential liability of Johnson & Johnson, a 132 year old multinational

medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods

manufacturing company headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.

Earlier, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an article titled

“Jury awards $4.7bn damages against Johnson & Johnson in talcum cancer

case” published in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ). As per

BMJ’s article, “More than 9000 former US talcum customers have lodged

suits against the company. Most claim damages for ovarian cancer, but

some allege that using the product led them to develop mesothelioma.

The award is by far the biggest yet against Johnson and Johnson in

litigation relating to talcum powder and the first case in which

plaintiffs alleged that asbestos in talcum powder caused their

disease. The verdict was handed down in the Circuit Court of the City

of St. Louis. ((Reference: BMJ 2018; 362 doi:

https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3135)

We reiterate that this investigative report is of deep relevance for

the public health of present and future generation of Indians given

the fact that Johnson & Johnson company has admittedly been in India

for last 70 years. The company has brought many products in consumer

healthcare, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. In 1947, Johnson &

Johnson expanded into India, marketing Johnson’s Baby Powder. In

September 1957, Johnson & Johnson incorporated as a legal entity in

India. The production in its first manufacturing facility began in

1959 at the Johnson & Johnson India plant in Mulund, Mumbai, for

Johnson’s Baby Powder and other specialized products. In 1968, the

company introduces the Stayfree brand to India. A situation emerged

wherein Johnson & Johnson reached almost every household in India.

The Reuters investigative report refers to the findings of Dr. Irving

J. Selikoff who had conclusively established a link between the

inhalation of asbestos particles and lung-related ailments in the

1960s itself that paved the way for ban on asbestos of all kinds in

some 60 countries. Dr. Selikoff was the director of the Environmental

and Occupational Health Division of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

It is significant that Ms Lisa Girion of Reuters has shared the

official documents on the basis of which she has made these startling

claims in her investigative report.

(Reference: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/johnsonandjohnson-cancer/)

We wish to reiterate that in a Terms of Reference dated October 25,

2010 issued by Union Environment & Forests Ministry for a proposed

Asbestos cement sheet and accessories manufacturing unit of 1,80,000

Tonnes Per Annum capacity at Narsimharaopalem Village, Veerulupadu

Tehsil, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh by M/s Sahyadri Industries

Limited made reference to “talc and chrysotile”.

Prior to the Reuters report, a 2014 paper published in the

International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health titled

“Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of

mesothelioma in women” by Ronald E Gordon et al concluded “we found

that a specific brand of talcum powder contained identifiable asbestos

fibers with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled

during normal personal talcum powder application. We also found that

asbestos fibers consistent with those found in the same cosmetic talc

product were present in the lungs and lymph node tissues of a woman

who used this brand of talc powder and developed and died from

mesothelioma. This study was published in October 2014. (Reference:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164883/)

We submit that the investigation by Reuters reveals that “Johnson &

Johnson developed a strategy in the 1970s to deal with a growing

volume of research showing that talc miners had elevated rates of lung

disease and cancer: Promote the positive, challenge the negative. That

approach was summed up by a J&J applied research director in a

“strictly confidential” March 3, 1975, memo to managers of the baby

products division, which used the talc in J&J’s signature Baby Powder.

Its approach reads: “Our current posture with respect to the

sponsorship of talc safety studies has been to initiate studies only

as dictated by confrontation,” the memo said. “This philosophy, so

far, has allowed us to neutralize or hold in check data already

generated by investigators who question the safety of talc.” It

reveals that scientific ghostwriters have been hired for long to hide

evidence of “cancer concern associated with exposure to talc.” Based

on an Italian study, one such ghost authored article that appeared in

the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in 1976 found

no mesothelioma, the signature cancer of asbestos exposure. The

Italian study in question has been updated three times – in 1979, 2003

and 2017 – “confirming the lack of association between exposure to

asbestos-free talc, lung cancer and mesothelioma.” The investigative

underlines that Johnson & Johnson got a lot of mileage out of the

study. It was cited in a review article titled “The Biology of Talc,”

published Nov. 1, 1976, in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine.

(Reference: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/77df/7030e57e91ee73c8e313d6b54e0ea0b7c498.pdf)

In addition to dozens of published studies, the review cited

unpublished research, including one experiment that used a doll as a

proxy for infants and that supported the company’s position on the

safety of talc. It didn’t disclose that Johnson & Johnson had

commissioned the unpublished research. The author of the review

article concluded that the “concern that has been expressed about the

possible health hazard from consumer exposure to cosmetic talc is

unwarranted … There is no evidence that its normal use poses a hazard

to health.” The author was Hildick-Smith, the Johnson & Johnson

physician executive who had overseen the Italian study and played a

key role in the company’s talc safety research. The article did not

disclose his Johnson & Johnson connection, identifying him only as a

Rutgers University Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

In a related event, I was a panelist at a Round Table Conference on

Issues Related to Asbestos Use in India held at India International

Centre, New Delhi on December 21, 2009, wherein Dr Iqbal Ahmad, a

scientist from IITR, Lucknow said that there are many different

sources of asbestos exposures which need to be looked at. He

identified talc (powder) as a major source which has asbestos

contamination and exposes a large section of population, especially

children and women. Talc is used in several industries as raw

material. He said that we do have numbers of talc based cosmetic

powders in India. China is the largest producer of talc. Some 47

companies which used to procure Chinese talc powder had to withdraw

their product from market in South Korea due to high asbestos

contamination.

We submit that Commission’s intervention will be germane in the light

of the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Consumer Education and

Research Centre (CERC) Vs Union of India (1995 AIR 922, 1995 SCC (3)

42) that recognized right to health as part of right to life and had

directed central and state governments to revise their law related

asbestos in keeping with fresh resolutions of International Labour

Organisation (ILO). ILO’s asbestos related resolution of June 2006 is

relevant in this regard (Reference:

https://www.ilo.org/safework/info/standards-and-instruments/WCMS_108556/lang–en/index.htm

 . The ILO resolution was followed by a joint publication of WHO and

ILO titled “Outline for the Development of National Programmes for

Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases” published in December 2007.

It creates a logical compulsion for urgent remedial action.

(Reference: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/resources-library/publications/WCMS_108555/lang–en/index.htm)

In view of the above, we submit that instead of waiting for the coo

withdraw its asbestos-laden talcum powder products-both baby powder

and adult powder, the Commission must consider recommending to the

central government and state governments to prevent preventable

diseases and deaths by banning these products with immediate effect.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Occupational Health India (OHI)
A-124/6, First Floor, Katwaria Sarai
New Delhi 110 016
Mb: 9818089660


16 Comments on “जॉनसन एंड जॉनसन के खिलाफ़ NHRC में शिकायत, कंपनी ने माना बेबी पाउडर में एस्बेस्टस है”

  1. Normally I do not read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice post.

  2. I’ve been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or weblog posts
    in this kind of space . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this website.
    Reading this information So i am glad to express that I have a very just right uncanny feeling I found out just what I
    needed. I so much certainly will make sure to don?t omit this website
    and give it a look on a relentless basis.

  3. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you happen to
    be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come
    back in the future. I want to encourage you to definitely continue
    your great work, have a nice holiday weekend!

  4. hello there and thank you for your information – I have certainly picked up anything new from right here.
    I did however expertise some technical points using this web site, as
    I experienced to reload the website many times previous to I could get it to load
    properly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK?
    Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and
    could damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Well I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for a lot more
    of your respective fascinating content. Make sure you update
    this again soon.

  5. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire
    in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing
    to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently fast.

  6. When someone writes an paragraph he/she retains the image of a user in his/her brain that how a user can be aware of
    it. Therefore that’s why this post is great. Thanks!

  7. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely helpful info particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such info much. I was seeking this particular information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  8. I am no longer positive where you’re getting your information, but
    great topic. I must spend some time studying much more or figuring out more.
    Thanks for wonderful info I was looking for this information for my mission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *