January 3, 2019 / 6:55 AM / in 2 months

U.S. drugmaker J&J's India sales dip 3 percent in 2017/18: filing

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) sales in India dipped 3 percent in the year to March 2018, a regulatory filing showed on Thursday, as the U.S. drugmaker grappled with the country’s stringent medical device pricing policies.

FILE PHOTO: A bottle of Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder is seen in a photo illustration taken in New York, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Illustration

The company, currently mired in a controversy surrounding the safety of its baby talcum powder, reported overall sales of 58.28 billion rupees ($829 million) in India for the year, its filing with the country’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs shows.

But its after-tax profit for the period rose 18 percent to $98 million on other income, including foreign exchange gains.

J&J’s medical device sales in India have been hit following the federal government’s move in 2017 to cap prices of devices such as orthopedic knee implants to help poor patients.

The restrictions were part of a broader push by India to end what it called “illegal profiteering” by companies.

The company has recently been in the news after a Reuters investigation found J&J knew for decades that cancer-causing asbestos lurked in its baby powder.

The report prompted drug inspectors across India to collect talc samples from J&J facilities for testing.

J&J has said the Reuters article was “one-sided, false and inflammatory”, adding that its Baby Powder was “safe and asbestos free”.

J&J’s Baby Powder is one of the most recognized foreign brands in India. The company leads sales in the Indian baby and child toiletries market, which Euromonitor International estimates was worth $178 million last year.

J&J’s consumer segment in India, which includes baby care products such as soap and talc, recorded sales of 31 billion rupees in the year to March 2018, marginally lower than the previous year, the company’s India filing showed.

Sales in its medical segment, which includes its orthopedic products, fell 7 percent to 19.6 billion rupees.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Martin Howell and Himani Sarkar

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