J&J exec retires as new recall questions surface

How we'd love to be a fly on the wall at Johnson & Johnson.  A New York congressman is raising new questions about a potential "phantom recall" of children's Tylenol. And, as Reuters notes, it was just hours later that J&J announced the impending retirement of Colleen Goggins, who heads up the company's consumer operations.

Rep. Edolphus Towns, who heads up the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, launched a probe into the J&J recalls soon after the big children's drug snafu was announced. At a hearing this spring, Towns accused J&J of conducting a separate, "phantom recall" of Motrin, in which it hired private contractors to buy up stocks of the drug from store shelves. The FDA ended up forcing J&J to declare an official recall of the tablets.

Now, Towns has released emails that indicate J&J was considering hiring the same contractors to purchase children's Tylenol in the same way. "We are exploring another similar but potentially larger recall for July involving children's Tylenol," an executive at contractor WIS wrote, adding that the company would begin by counting packages on store shelves, including mass retailers and grocery, drug, and convenience stores. "J&J could ask Inmar/WIS to move ahead on a scope to purchase product that would make our Motrin project look small," the email goes on to say (as quoted by CNN Money).

Towns confronted CEO Bill Weldon (photo) about the email in a new letter asking him to testify at a Sept. 30 hearing. Towns asked whether the company was indeed considering a stealth recall of children's medicine, and whether J&J knew about quality-control troubles with children's Tylenol several months before actually recalling them. No doubt Weldon will address those questions; he's announced his intent to appear at that hearing. Will Goggins show up as well, as the committee requests? J&J says it hasn't decided.

- see Towns' release announcing the hearing
- find Towns' letter to Weldon
- read the news from Reuters
- read the CNN Money story
- get more from NPR
- see the Bloomberg coverage
- check out the New York Times article