HSA: No asbestos found in J&J baby powder sold in Singapore

Johnson & Johnson is facing thousands of lawsuits in the US over claims that some of its talcum powder products caused cancer.
Johnson & Johnson is facing thousands of lawsuits in the US over claims that some of its talcum powder products caused cancer.PHOTO: REUTERS

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has said that it did not find any asbestos in Johnson & Johnson's baby powder or other talc products sold in Singapore.

HSA has also not received reports of any adverse reactions associated with the use of talc in cosmetic products in Singapore, including J&J baby powder, the regulator told The Sunday Times.

J&J is facing thousands of lawsuits in the US over claims that some of its talcum powder products caused cancer.

On Dec 14, Reuters reported that the pharmaceutical giant had been aware of trace amounts of cancer-causing asbestos in its talc-based products since at least 1971.

Talc is a mineral made up mainly of magnesium, silicon and oxygen, and it is commonly found in cosmetics. Cosmetic-grade talc, which must not contain contaminants such as asbestos, is generally regarded as a safe ingredient in cosmetics worldwide, including the United States and Europe.

It is allowed as an ingredient under the Asean Cosmetic Directive, which Singapore has adopted.

Asbestos is a prohibited substance in cosmetic products under the Health Products (Cosmetic Products - Asean Cosmetic Directive) Regulations.

While cosmetic products do not have to undergo evaluation and approval by HSA, they must comply with legal requirements for labelling as well as the restriction and prohibition on the use of certain ingredients.

 
 
 
 

HSA said that dealers of cosmetic products have the legal responsibility for the safety of their products and are required to notify the authority before the products go on the market.

Regarding talcum powder for children, HSA's regulations require such products to be labelled with the warning "Keep powder away from children's nose and mouth".

HSA also said it keeps tabs on products containing talc to make sure that they are safe. This includes testing samples of such products and monitoring adverse reactions among users.

Products found to be unsafe will be removed from the market.

HSA said it would continue to monitor closely any new safety data related to the use of talc in cosmetic products, and would take appropriate action and inform the public where necessary.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 23, 2018, with the headline 'HSA: No asbestos found in J&J baby powder sold in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe