J&J expects plant fixes to take all year

Don't look for over-the-counter drugs to come out of Johnson & Johnson's plant in Fort Washington, PA, anytime this year. In the wake of the massive children's drug recall announced in April--when J&J's McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit stopped production at the plant--the company now is saying the the facility will stay idle at least until year's end.

McNeil suspended production in Fort Washington to fix quality problems that prompted the big recall. According to an FDA inspection report, those problems were significant--contaminated ingredients, inadequate quality control, dirty facilities and so on. And this inspection report wasn't the first to take issue with the facility's operations. CNN Money is reporting that the plant repeatedly drew FDA attention beginning as far back as 2003--and that the agency started asking for a recall of some Fort Washington-produced medicine back in February.

J&J says the unit is assessing its manufacturing operations and working on putting them right. It has replaced some managers as well. The company hasn't finalized its plans for bringing the Fort Washington facility back online yet.

Analysts told the Wall Street Journal that rectifying the plant's faults is going to be a big job. Given the fact that J&J expects to be working on it all year long, its management appears to agree.

- check out the McNeil release
- read the Wall Street Journal story
- see the article at CNN Money
- get more from Portfolio

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