J&J uncooperative in House probe, committee says

Is Johnson & Johnson cooperating fully with a Congressional probe into its recent consumer-drug recalls? The company says yes--but investigators say no. Rep. Edolphus Towns, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said J&J has dragged its feet when asked for information and documents. "[W]e are not getting the kind of information and cooperation from Johnson that I would like," Towns told the New York Times, while a spokesperson told Reuters that the committee is "deeply concerned" about the J&J response.

Towns said other corporations investigated by the committee--such as Bank of America and A.I.G.--have been more forthcoming. And when the company has responded, Towns said, it hasn't always told the whole truth. He cited instances in which documentary evidence contradicted executive statements: "We need to know where the spin is and where the truth begins," he maintains.

The company, however, says it has been "very cooperative" with the committee and that any discrepancies could be simple misunderstandings.

For instance: Peter Luther, president of McNeil Consumer Healthcare, told investigators that the Pennsylvania plant implicated in the latest recall did not manufacture drugs for any other companies. But soon after, Blacksmith Brands instituted a "precautionary" recall of its PediaCare products made at the plant. A J&J spokeswoman said that J&J sold the PediaCare brand to Blacksmith last fall and the McNeill plant was only manufacturing the drugs temporarily.

The upshot of all this: Another black eye for J&J. As McNeil's manufacturing troubles have surfaced--and FDA and Congress have been digging around to find out how it all happened--the company seen a lot of less-than-flattering press. So much so that some say it's going to have to work hard to regain its reputation. "The only way for [J&J] to reclaim any measure of credibility," Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who sits on the oversight committee, told the NYT, "is to let it all out now.".

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