'MNCs should stop treating Indians as guinea pigs'

'MNCs should stop treating Indians as guinea pigs'

Opposing grant of interim permission to Johnson & Johnson's to resume manufacturing of baby talcum powder at its factory here, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today told the Bombay High Court that multinational companies shouldn't treat Indians as "guinea pigs".

Justifying state FDA's order directing closure of the J&J's Mulund facility for not checking some batches of talcum powder for ethylene oxide residue in 2007, FDA lawyer Ashutosh Kumbakoni said, "Multinationals should stop treating Indians like guinea pigs. If the same incident had happened in the US, the company would have faced worse (consequences)."

The division bench of Justices S J Vazifdar and M S Sonak was hearing a petition filed by J&J challenging FDA's order directing closure of suburban Mulund factory from June 24. The company has also sought a permission to reopen its factory as an interim relief.

In March, the FDA cancelled the licence of the factory after it found that 15 batches of baby talcum powder manufactured there in 2007 were sterilised using ethylene oxide, a chemical that is widely believed to cause cancer, apart from symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and is considered `an irritant'.

FDA alleged that the company had not registered this process with it, and failed to conduct tests to check for traces of ethylene oxide in these batches of powder.
The company challenged the order before appellate authority, but the order was upheld, so it moved HC.

Senior counsel Rafiq Dada, appearing for the company, today sought interim relief and said the company was not using ethylene oxide treatment process anymore.
The FDA lawyer, however, opposed the request. "Even today the company is not admitting that treatment to check residue was not done. Absence of repentance and remorse is withholding the authorities," advocate Kumbakoni argued.

The hearing would continue on July 29.

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