J&J shortage links eBay to drug supply chain

In a move that could reinvent the pharma supply chain, consumers are turning to eBay and Amazon.com to find missing Johnson & Johnson drugs. The news comes on the heels of another (but unrelated) J&J product recall.

Heartburn sufferers, stymied in their search for Pepcid Complete tablets, are heading for the keyboard. The product is made by joint venture Johnson & Johnson-Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals.

Supplies dwindled last fall, reports the New York Times. A limited recall of tropical fruit flavor Pepcid Complete in August was inexplicably followed by unannounced shortages and then the disappearance of other versions of the treatment.

Amazon.com unabashedly posted $76 as the price for a 50-count bottle of the chewable mint tablets. "Only 8 left in stock--order soon," the e-retail site proclaimed midday Wednesday. On eBay, the bidding had reached $31.01 for a 50-count bottle of the cherry-flavored version.

J&J would only reiterate that it continues to evaluate and improve ops processes following its raft of McNeil recalls, including Tylenol. Pepcid Complete, like other products, "may occasionally become temporarily unavailable," says J&J. The healthcare giant adds that it expects retailers will again begin displaying the product this month.

Separately, J&J's Animas unit has recalled about 384,000 leaking insulin cartridges. The defect can result in patients receiving too little medication, and it can prevent an alert from sounding when the infusion system is blocked.

- see the NYT story
- here's the Animus story

Special Report: The Battered Brand: A Tylenol Recall Timeline