HEALTH

Congressional committee investigates J&J’s Motrin ‘phantom’ recall

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Rep. Ed Towns, D-N.Y., on Thursday announced that the Committee on Government Oversight and Government Reform, which he chairs, has begun querying contracting companies on whether they were hired by Johnson & Johnson in late 2008 to execute a “phantom” recall of a certain SKU of Motrin available primarily through the convenience channel.

“Rather than doing the right thing and announcing a recall, we have learned that the drug company hired contractors to basically sneak into stores to purchase the products as if they were legitimate customers,” stated Towns.  “We need to better understand Johnson & Johnson’s relationship with the contractor and get to the bottom of the services the contractor was asked to provide.”

Towns had addressed the Motrin recall with Colleen Goggins, J&J worldwide chairman, consumer group, during last week’s hearing. Goggins testified that she did not know the specific language of the contract between J&J and the contractor, but that the Food and Drug Administration had knowledge of J&J’s particular actions in this situation at the time the contract was being executed.

The committee is examining an alleged attempt by J&J, parent company of McNeil Consumer Healthcare, to hire a contractor to go into retail stores and secretly purchase the suspect Motrin in order to avoid issuing a formal recall. Only when the FDA discovered this covert activity did J&J announce a recall of the affected medication, Towns asserted. “It wasn’t until this caper was foiled by the Food and Drug Administration that McNeil did what it should have done in the first place and recalled the affected medication,” Towns said. “The company’s motivation was apparently to save itself the embarrassment and potential financial loss associated with a recall.”

According to a document obtained by the Committee, WIS of San Diego was recruited by Carolina Supply Chain Services, now a division of Inmar, “on behalf of Johnson & Johnson” to purchase the affected Motrin.

Chairman Towns sent formal requests for information to WIS and Inmar today about their relationship with J&J, and asked for details on their alleged role in the phantom recall. The chairman also asked for the amount of Motrin that was purchased and what was done with those packages.

The committee learned of the phantom recall while investigating the recent recall of over-the-counter Johnson & Johnson/McNeil pediatric products, Towns said. This week, the chairman expanded that investigation to include the issue of Johnson & Johnson’s phantom recall of Motrin.

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AARP survey: Hispanics more sexually active than counterparts

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON According to a new AARP survey called “Sex, Romance, and Relationships Among Hispanics Age 45 or Older: AARP Survey of Midlife and Older Adults” that was released Wednesday, Hispanics over the age of 45 are more sexually active than their counterparts in the general population.

“Hispanics 45-plus continue to be more sexually active than the rest of the 45-plus population,” stated AARP’s Love & Relationships ambassador Pepper Schwartz. “For them, sex is a necessary component to living a happy and healthy life, and plays a critical role in relationships and overall quality of life.”

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Lifeclinic International looks to connect community-wellness providers, pharmacies

BY Allison Cerra

BURTONSVILLE, Md. Lifeclinic International has rolled out a pilot program for a Web-based ad-building engine that allows community-wellness providers to advertise their services in neighborhood pharmacies where Lifeclinic monitors are installed.

The interactive platform, LifeclinicLocal.com, will feature advertisements from 18 different specialties that have a connection with community pharmacies, Lifeclinic said. The first advertiser will be Aajay Shah, a member of the American College of Cardiology in Michigan. His ad campaign will be seen in 44 Lansing-area pharmacies on the Lifeclinic monitors starting in July.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Shah and his Mid-Michigan Heart Group as the first advertiser to be able to utilize our local communications service,” said Lon G. von Hurwitz, EVP business sevelopment for Lifeclinic International. “We have designed LifeclinicLocal.com to create this outlet for local wellness providers to promote their services to their communities. Only certain wellness-provider categories have been authorized by our retail pharmacy partners to insure that the messages on the Lifeclinic monitors are entirely relevant to the viewer.”

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