Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) execs should write a blues song about recalls. The company has found more manufacturing problems at its now-closed-for-remodeling plant in Fort Washington, PA, so it's pulling about 4 million packages of children's Benadryl tablets and 800,000 bottles of junior Motrin caplets off store shelves and out of wholesale warehouses.
Packages of drugs that are already in consumers' hands aren't affected, however. The company says the products are safe for continued use, because they passed quality testing and haven't prompted any complaints about side effects.
Earlier this year, J&J's McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit recalled 34 million bottles of children's drugs made at the Fort Washington plant, and the FDA released a scathing inspection report about the facility's condition and procedures. The plant was shut down--and most of its work force laid off--so that it could be retooled to fix the problems. J&J said the latest recall stems from an internal manufacturing review prompted by the repeated quality problems.
Of course, the children's drug snafu isn't the only recall trouble J&J has faced recently; the company has withdrawn certain lots of other drugs, including adult versions of Benadryl and Tylenol, along with hip-replacement devices and contact lenses. In all, the company has pulled at least 15 different products, according to McNeil's recall website. The FDA and the Justice Department are investigating the recalls.
CEO Bill Weldon (photo) has revamped J&J's quality-control chart in an attempt to arrest the problems. And then there's the cleanup at the Fort Washington plant, which is expected to extend well into 2011. Plus, the company has stopped using wooden shipping pallets to prevent contamination by a wood preservative, which led to several of the adult-drug recalls. The company re-introduced its first children's Tylenol product last week.