SINGAPORE - 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 here.
HSA has also not received reports on adverse reactions associated with the use of talc in cosmetic products in Singapore, including J&J baby powder, the regulator told The Straits Times.
J&J is facing thousands of lawsuits in the United States over claims that some of its talcum powder products caused cancer.
On Dec 14, Reuters reported that the pharmaceutical giant was 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 in 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 HSA before the products go on the market.
For talcum powder used for children, HSA's regulations require such products to be labelled with the warning: "Keep powder away from children's nose and mouth."
HSA said that 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.
This article was first published in The Straits TImes. Permission required for reproduction.