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WHO Pushes for Drug Classification of Certain Cosmetics

By: Priyanka Bhattacharya
Posted: February 2, 2010, from the February 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

In what may come to be a blow to India’s fast-growing fairness [similar to the whitening category] and antiaging categories, the Pharmacovigillance Committee, formed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in India, has issued a warning to consumers regarding skin-altering claims. According to committee member Nilima Kshirsahar, a professor at the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences in Mumbai and an emeritus professor in clinical pharmacology, the efficacy and the promise made by the various antiaging and fairness creams are yet to be scientifically tested for effectiveness and usage safety. She stated that consumers have to be wary of the trap of genuineness in cosmeceutical products.

According to Kshirsahar’s presentation, antiaging and fairness creams contain ingredients that are categorized as drugs, however these products enjoy the liberties not provided to other drugs and these ingredients lack the standardization that ensure effective results. Drugs are classified as substances that interfere, alter or otherwise impact the physiology of the body to produce change, while cosmetics only impact physical appearance. If a product is classified a drug, it must be subjected to three stages of research and testing before it can be launched in the Indian market. Until approximately a decade ago in India, cosmetics and drugs had very clear demarcation, but that demarcation is diminishing quickly, and the committee points to marketing tactics—noting claims such as increasing collagen, inducing higher cell turnover and impacting melanin production. According to Kshirsahar, many popular actives, due to the lack of a standardization in a number of facets, cause negative skin reactions. Therefore, the committee will continue to push to have a number of cosmetic ingredients and products classified as drugs.

Sunsilk Creates Line Specifically for Range of Indian Consumers

The hair care market, especially the shampoo and conditioner category, is evolving quickly in India. With increasing consumer awareness in regard to hair types and different hair care needs, the demand for shampoo variants is growing, and more and more brand owners are looking to meet this demand by launching variants to the Indian market. Unilever’s Sunsilk, one of the oldest multinational shampoo brands in the country, recently launched a series of seven shampoos that it has cocreated with seven of the world’s leading hair experts and stylists.

Out of the seven experts, four have created very specific products for the Indian market, deeming the hair quality and care needs to be very different in that part of the globe. British stylist Thomas Taw, for example, has created Damage Repair Shampoo, and Dream Soft and Smooth Shampoo. According to Narayanan Rajaram, vice president of hair care, Hindustan Unilever Limited, these new variants have been developed by the experts based on the consumer insights. In its research, the company found that the desire for these variants is not limited to consumers in urban areas who seek salonlike results from retail products; both men and women in smaller towns are aspiring for salon like treatment at affordable pricing. Though Sunsilk plays in the premium mass brand segment, the brand, through the new range, plans to tap into the small-town hair care aspirations.

India’s Wipro Acquires U.K. Brand

In order to enter the premium beauty market in India, as well as markets in Asia, Australasia and Africa, Indian consumer care company Wipro has acquired U.K. bath and shower brand Yardley for $45.5 million. Owned by Lornamead, which purchased the brand from P&G in 2005, Yardley is synonymous with sweet smelling, gentle fragrance and talcum powder in India. In fact its talcum powder is the highest selling product in the country and accounts for approximately 40% of Yardley’s revenues—followed by deodorants at 19%. Yardley’s lavender and red rose ranges are in high demand in India. While Wipro—with its flagship Santoor soap brand and range of toiletries, wellness and baby care products—will continue to source the powder and fragrance from third party manufacturers, it will start manufacturing Yardley soaps in its Indian facility. The acquisition is expected to help Wipro double its consumer care revenues from West Asia, from approximately $15 million to more than $30 million. With this its fifth acquisition in the last two years, Wipro plans to face competition from Hindustan Unilever Limited and P&G head on.

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