December 21, 2018 / 8:18 AM / a month ago

Exclusive - Bangladesh says to collect, test samples of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder

FILE PHOTO: A worker closes a glass cabinet of Johnson & Johnson baby powder bottles at a medical store in Kolkata, India, December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh will collect and test samples of Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) Baby Powder for asbestos in a couple of days, its main testing authority said on Friday, after a Reuters report last Friday that the firm knew for decades that cancer-causing asbestos could be found in the product.

The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), under the Industries Ministry, said it will either do the tests inside or outside the country.

“We take this issue seriously and within a couple of days we will collect samples from the market ...,” S.M. Isahaque Ali, a director at the BSTI, told Reuters.

He said Bangladesh wouldn’t stop the Baby Powder from being marketed unless it discovers asbestos is present.

J&J has described the Reuters article as “one-sided, false and inflammatory”.

J&J spokespersons in India and Bangladesh could not be immediately reached for comment on the Bangladesh government move.

J&J said on Thursday that its talc is routinely tested by both suppliers and independent labs to ensure that it is free of asbestos. It told Reuters in a statement: “All talc in India is sourced and exclusively sold in India and surrounding markets – including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives – and fully meets the regulatory standards of the Government of India”.

Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Martin Howell

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