Friday, October 19, 2007

Who owns Lansinoh and are they Code compliant?

A question that comes up from time to time is who owns Lansinoh, a brand of nipple cream and does it comply with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions. People are, quite rightly, concerned about conflicts of interest in accepting sponsorship, something which WHA Resolutions draw attention to (see, for example, WHA 58.32).

We and our partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) have a clear funding policy: no sponsorship from companies with an interest in infant feeding choices. That includes breast pump manufacturers and nipple cream companies. Sometimes this prompts a debate on whether such products are necessary or not, which misses the point. We wish to maintain our independence and so do not want to be swayed by, or be seen to be influenced by, a funder. The danger with sponsorship is that you too easily get drawn in to defending a company in trying to justify accepting its money. Baby Milk Action takes a stricter line still and accepts no commercial funding. There are repercussions of course. We have to cut staff hours and do less when funding is tight, but we feel that is better than compromising what we stand for.

The other danger with linking with infant feeding companies - indeed any company - is that you may not be aware of all its business interests and these may change.

So it is with Lansinoh which was taken over by bottle and baby food company, Pigeon, in 2004. In that same year the IBFAN Breaking the Rules monitoring report found Pigeon to be the worst of the bottle and teat companies profiled.

Here is an example of a violation of the marketing requirements I have lifted from the report, which shows how Pigeon draws equivalence between a teat and breastfeeding.

You can download the report at:
http://www.ibfan.org/site2005/Pages/article.php?art_id=302&iui=1

In its 2004 report Pigeon explains about its takeover of Lansinoh and its expansion into the teat market in China - where breastfeeding rates are starting to fall as artificial feeding as viewed or portrayed as a part of industrialisation.

See:
http://www.pigeon.co.jp/english/data/2004_07_e.pdf

---report extracts
2) Expanding our overseas business
In April 2004, we formed an agreement with Lansinoh Laboratories, Inc., a prominent U.S. manufacturer of breast-feeding-related products. Under the agreement, Lansinoh became a wholly owned subsidiary of Pigeon. Our intention here is to secure new sales channels in the North American market, where the birthrate continues to rise, and expand sales through the launch of attractive new breast-feeding-related products.

In the rapidly growing Chinese market, our sales have centered on large cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Going forward, we will further boost recognition of the Pigeon brand by building a sales network encompassing major regional cities. In April 2004, Pigeon (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., began producing baby bottle nipples as its core product.


[And]

Overseas business: In April 2004, Lansinoh Laboratories, Inc., a prominent U.S. manufacturer of breast-feeding-related products, became a wholly owned subsidiary of Pigeon. Although the acquisition occurred just over two months before the end of the interim term, we are already witnessing favorable results. Going forward, we will work with Lansinoh to expand sales of breast-feeding-related products, not only in North America but in Europe as well.

Other overseas consolidated subsidiaries also performed well during the period. By export market, we reported solid sales in China, South Korea, and the Middle East. By product line, we posted significant year-on-year sales increases of baby bottle nipples and weaning foods in South Korea, and of cleansers and disinfectants for baby bottles and vegetables in Hong Kong and Singapore.
---extracts end

This is the latest information I have available. As is the nature of this business, ownership may change.

From a campaigning point of view, taking a tough stand on links with Lansinoh because of the violations of its parent company is a good way to exert pressure on it to change.

But even if it followed the regulations perfectly, to maintain our independence IBFAN would still keep clear of it as it profits from infant feeding.

3 comments:

Mike Brady said...

I understand someone has linked to this post suggesting it is calling for a boycott of Lansinoh.

It isn't.

It is calling for care over SPONSORSHIP of health workers and materials because of conflicts of interest.

Ellen said...

Mike, I saw your post on the "Babywhisperer.com" forum about this, and I think the confusion arises from the name of the website: "boycott nestle", and that the thread in question had branched out somewhat into a more general discussion about boycotting formula companies.

emmap said...

I have posted elsewhere too but just to clarify I agree with the last comment. The discussion led on to a discussion of the Nestle boycott but it wasn't suggested you advocate boycotting this company yourself - as anyone reading this page on your discussion of sponsorship will see. Anyone familiar with your work will know it's pretty obvious when you advocate a boycott and you are not shy about making it clear when this is the case. The link was originally made because some bf advocates have used the information here to choose personally themselves to find alternative products. But that this is not at your urging - just a personal choice.