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Brett Emison
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Johnson & Johnson Recalls 45 Million Additional Tylenol Products

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What has happened to Johnson & Johnson?

Just days after the State of Oregon sued the drug giant over its "phantom" recall of over-the-counter Motrin medications, Johnson & Johnson recalled at least 45 million Tylenol products due to ongoing cleanliness problems at its Fort Washington, PA plant.

A "Phantom" Recall

In September 2010, Johnson & Johnson realized that a number of its over-the-counter Motrin medications were defective. However, instead of issuing a formal recall, the drug maker sent "phantom" buyers into stores to purchase the defective medications. However, Johnson & Johnson never warned the public and never warned those who had already purchased the defective Motrin.

Via ABC News at the time:

[Lynn Walther, who worked as a J&J contractor] said he was following the instructions he’d been given. "You should simply act like a regular customer while making these purchases," the document said. "There must be no mention of this being a recall of the product. Run in, find the product, make your purchase and run out."

Now the State of Oregon has sued Johnson & Johnson for secretly trying to remove the defective drugs during the "phantom" recall. Oregon’s attorney general filed suit against J&J and two of its subsidiaries, McNeil PPC Inc. and McNeil Healthcare Inc. These subsidiaries make Johnson & Johnson’s over-the-counter medications, such as Motrin, Tylenol and Benadryl.

Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol Recall

Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil division is also recalling an additional 45 million Tylenol, Benadryl and other over-the-counter medication products. Drugs included in the recall are:

  • Tylenol 8 Hour
  • Tylenol Arthritis Pain
  • Tylenol upper respiratory products
  • Benadryl
  • Sudafed PE
  • Sinutab

The recall stems from ongoing cleanliness problems at Johnson & Johnson’s Fort Washington, Pennsylvania plant.

DePuy Hip Recall

Johnson & Johnson is also responsible for at least 93,000 defective artificial hips. In August 2010, Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics division recalled the ASR XL Acetabular Head System and ASR Hip Resurfacing System. The DePuy hip recall occurred because the metal-on-metal construction of the ASR artificial hips permits grinding and allow metal particles or ions to enter the surrounding tissue.

History of Recalls

Johnson & Johnson products have been the subject of at least a dozen recalls in just over a year’s time. Recalls have included:

  • Motrin IB
  • Children’s Benadryl
  • Children’s Tylenol
  • Children’s Tylenol Meltaways
  • Tylenol Infant Drops
  • Tylenol Extra Strength
  • Tylenol Day & Night
  • Tylenol PM
  • Tylenol Extra Strength Rapid Release
  • Tylenol Arthritis
  • Benadryl Allergy Ultratab
  • Acuvue TruEye contact lenses
  • Zyrtec Itchy Eye Drops
  • DePuy artificial hips

Johnson & Johnson massive recalls prompted its CEO last year to admit that Johnson & Johnson "made a mistake." While I applaud the company for admitting its mistakes (something many companies refuse to do), I have to wonder when Johnson & Johnson will get its house in order. Providing a clean production facility for children’s medications seems fundamental. Yet after nearly a year, Johnson & Johnson still cannot accomplish this basic task. Identifying the problem was only the first step. Johnson & Johnson needs to do more to ensure that its products are safe for the millions of people who rely on them.

[More on Johnson & Johnson’s recalls and problems]

[More on the DePuy hip recall]

(c) Copyright 2011 Brett A. Emison

1 Comment

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    This recall keeps getting bigger and bigger. Now it’s sounds like the conditions at the plant the FDA shut down were disgusting. Amazing what profits mean to some.