Another J&J Recall

Just as Johnson & Johnson executives thought they were beginning to turn around their pharmaceutical division McNeil Consumer Healthcare, they have to announce another recall. This time, as in other recalls, its involves a type of Children’s Tylenol. The move Friday involved bottles of grape-flavored infants’ Tylenol, which had only just returned to shelves in November, one of the few recalled consumer products J&J had put back on the market.
According to the Wall St. Journal, “Since 2009, J&J has recalled millions of bottles of Tylenol, Benadryl, Motrin and Zyrtec as a result of such problems as metal shavings found in medicines, incorrect levels of an active ingredient and bad odors. The recalls prompted J&J to shut down a factory and have cost it more than $1 billion in lost sales.
With this new recall, J&J’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit said the popular over-the-counter cold and pain remedy was safe and that it hadn’t received any side-effect reports, but it acted after receiving a “small number of complaints” about a new bottle cap and dose syringe.”
This latest drug recall is perhaps more of a public relations problem than a safety problem, especially since no reports of injuries have been noted. Yet, it is a real problem for the pharmaceutical company. Pharmaceutical sales, especially pediatric pharmaceuticals, are driven by consumer confidence which is generated from the perception that the product is safe and effective in treating pediatric illnesses. Once that trust is eroded, most parents don’t venture back to give a product or a company a second try.
While pharmaceutical product safety has garnered much attention over the past 24 months, the more serious safety issue concerns medical devices and Johnson & Johnson is not immune from this either. J&J’s medical hip device unit, DePuy has suffered through one of the worst debacles in the company’s history with the DePuy Pinnacle and the DePuy ASR XL, both of which are now considered unsafe due to their high failure rates. Once thought to be on the leading edge of the evolving metal-on-metal hip market, the new hip devices have been linked to design defect issues that cause numerous health issues.
It’s not a good time for Johnson & Johnson. Their public relations problems stem from real safety concerns that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.