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HC: Johnson & Johnson can sell baby powder

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and SG Dige also came down heavily on the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its delay in carrying out tests on a sample of the company’s baby powder seized in December 2018.

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday permitted Johnson & Johnson to manufacture, sell and distribute its baby powder and quashed three orders of the Maharashtra government that revoked the company’s licence and asked it to stop the product manufacture and sale, terming them as “stringent, unreasonable and unfair”.

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and SG Dige also came down heavily on the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its delay in carrying out tests on a sample of the company’s baby powder seized in December 2018. The bench noted that while maintaining standards of quality and safety are of utmost importance for cosmetic products, it does not seem reasonable to stop the entire manufacturing process when there is a slight deviation in one of the products.

Such an approach would result in considerable amount of “commercial chaos and wastefulness”, it said. The orders of suspension and revoking of license were passed based on the report of a lab, which found that the powder contained higher pH level than prescribed. The HC, in its order on Wednesday, noted the fresh tests conducted showed that all batches of the baby power product were compliant with the norms prescribed.

Noting that the government orders cannot sustain, the HC quashed them and permitted the company to manufacture, distribute and sell its baby powder products.

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