Contractors Asked to Detail Role in J&J's Phantom Recall

Contractors Asked to Detail Role in J&J's Phantom Recall

Chairman Towns wants answers from Inmar, WIS

WASHINGTON - Chairman Edolphus "Ed" Towns (D-NY) is asking contracting companies whether they were hired by Johnson & Johnson in late 2008 to execute a "phantom" recall of a certain type of Motrin.   The committee is examining an alleged attempt by the drug maker 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 Johnson & Johnson announce a recall of the affected medication.

"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," said Chairman 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."

According to a document obtained by the Committee, WIS of San Diego, CA was recruited by Carolina Supply Chain Services (CSCS, now a division of Inmar) "on behalf of Johnson & Johnson" to purchase the affected Motrin.  The WIS document states that the "objective" is, "To visit all the stores on your schedule; locate, and purchase all of the MOTRIN . . . ."

Chairman Towns sent formal requests for information to WIS and Inmar today about their relationship with Johnson & Johnson 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.

"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," said Chairman Towns.  "The company's motivation was apparently to save itself the embarrassment and potential financial loss associated with a recall."

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