According to a news source, Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. has denied that it asked a court to dismiss a consumer’s claims that the company’s skin-whitening product with 4HPB, or Rhododenol, caused her to develop itchy skin and white blotches on her face, neck and arms. The claimant is apparently demanding ¥48 million under product liability law and other legal theories. She reportedly claims that her symptoms worsened because the company delayed recalling the product or issuing warnings. Additional details about Kanebo’s purported delay in recalling the product appear in Issue 7 of this Report.
The company apparently hopes to negotiate individual compensation awards with some 14,000 affected customers, but news sources say that the likelihood of additional lawsuits is increasing. Kanebo may also be subject to penalties imposed by the government for failure to report alleged product side effects in compliance with the law. Taiwan, evidently the company’s largest overseas retail market, has reportedly prohibited the sale of any products containing Rhododenol and has recalled any beauty item with the ingredient from store shelves. A team of lawyers retained by Kanebo report- edly issued findings in September critical of the company’s delayed product recall, claiming that Kanebo should have taken steps to address the problem a year earlier. See The Japan Times, September 16, 2013; Cosmeticsdesign-asia. com, November 27, 2013.