AN international pharmaceutical company has defended a promotion of its products, which is underway despite cancer concerns surrounding its talcum powder.
The GDN reported on March 25 that Bahrain’s Health Ministry was awaiting a decision from the GCC Supreme Council for Health about Johnson’s Baby Powder, which has already been pulled from the shelves in Qatar.
A Health Ministry spokeswoman confirmed yesterday it was still awaiting direction from the council.
Last month the Johnson & Johnson Group was ordered to pay $72 million to the family of American Jacqueline Fox, who died aged 62 from ovarian cancer that her relatives claimed was caused because she used the company’s products for more than 35 years.
The manufacturer has denied Johnson’s Baby Powder contains asbestos and a promotion now underway at a chain of pharmacies in Bahrain is offering a BD1 voucher for every BD5 spent on Johnson & Johnson products.
Johnson & Johnson consumer communication and public affairs head for Africa, the Middle East and Turkey, Laura Nel, said the promotion was not a response to recent negative publicity.
“The promotion of the products has nothing to do with the ban concerns and it is a routine marketing activity that we follow,” Ms Nel told the GDN.
“In the GCC, only Qatar removed some of our products from the shelves in the market due to some concerns that were raised.
“As aligned with the Qatari authorities, additional testing is being performed to provide full reassurance regarding the product’s safety.
“We confirm that we have not been approached by the GCC (Supreme) Council (for Health), nor are we aware of any council inquiry into this issue.
“We wish to reassure all mums, dads and families who use our Johnson’s Baby products on babies, infants, children or adults that every one of the products we market in the Middle East, including Bahrain, and worldwide is safe and effective when used as directed.
“Our products meet or exceed government standards in every country where they are sold.
“This includes compliance with local legislation, as well as meeting strict US and European Union cosmetic ingredient safety guidelines.
“Consumers in Bahrain can be confident that every Johnson’s Baby product meets the highest standards for safety and they can continue to use our products knowing that safety is our top priority.”
The civil suit brought against Johnson & Johnson by the family of Ms Fox was part of a broader claim against the company in the city of St Louis involving nearly 60 people.
A jury awarded Ms Fox’s family $10m in actual damages and $62m in punitive damages.
However, spokesman for the distributor of Johnson & Johnson products in Bahrain, the Yousif Mahmood Hussain company, said the Health Ministry had not informed it of any plan to follow Qatar’s lead.
“Thus far there is no ban on Johnson & Johnson products in Bahrain,” he said.