Kebs denies importation of recalled Johnson & Johnson baby powder

Kebs said although it was aware of the alert issued by USFDA in 2019, there was no evidence that the batch was imported
Kebs denies importation of recalled Johnson & Johnson baby powder
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Kenya Bureau of Standards has said there is no evidence that a baby powder product recalled by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) almost 5 years ago found it’s way into Kenya.

In response to a petition filed by a rights group against American multinational corporation Johnson & Johnson, Kebs said although it was aware of the alert issued by USFDA in 2019, there was no evidence that the batch was imported.

The African Centre for Corrective & Preventive Action says in a petition filed at the High Court last year that although the product had been banned in the European Union and India, it was still available for sale in Kenya.

The 4th respondent (Kebs) is nonetheless aware of the existence of a previous alert by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) on a voluntary recall of a single batch of the product in the United States upon finding by the USFDA of traces of asbestos contamination in a sample taken from a single bottle purchased from an online retailer,” the agency said in response to the petition.

The agency added that although it was aware of the importation of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder, it was not aware of any complaint on the existence of any harmful component in the product imported over the years.

Kebs revealed that following the alert, the cosmetics technical committee met representatives of the company and confirmed that the batch was never imported into Kenya.

Following the move, Kebs said it initiated the revision of the East African Standard on body powder to include a requirement for baby powder to be tested for asbestos.

The case was mentioned on Wednesday before Justice Lawrence Mugambi who pushed the hearing to March 27 to allow the Pharmacy and Poisons Board to file its response.

Kebs added that safeguards require that all baby powder imports be tested for asbestos under the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) plan.

Further, talcum powder was removed from the list of raw materials exempted from PVoC inspection, Kebs said. In its response, Johnson & Johnson (K) said it ceased trading in 2010 and has not engaged in any business since. The firm asked the court to be struck out of the proceedings.

The multinational asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the rights group failed to plead the alleged constitutional violations with precision by going beyond citing constitutional provisions without relating it to the infringement of complaint.

Further, the company said the rights groups failed to exhaust available dispute resolution mechanisms.

The petitioner’s grievances against the 1st and 2nd respondents, if any, relate to private rights and ought to be pursued under the private laws and not to be litigated in the constitutional court,” the firm said in response filed in court.

Through its executive director James Mwangi Macharia, the lobby says there is proof that benzene should not be used in drug substances and products because of “its unacceptable toxicity and deleterious environmental effect”.

Agencies

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