It's probably the last thing anyone expected to hear, but Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) recalled another batch of over-the-counter medicines Thursday due to consumer complaints of musty or moldy odors. The company's McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit widened its Jan. 15 recall to include additional specific lots of Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl that may have been contaminated with trace amounts of the chemical 2,4,6-tribromoanisole.
As before, McNeil said the recall is being taken as a precautionary measure, and described the risk of serious adverse medical events due to the contamination as remote.
McNeil began recalling over-the-counter medicines last year because of quality problems, and in April, launched a wide recall of its children's medicines, including liquid Tylenol and Motrin. In those cases, the recalls were for a more serious issue: Some of the medicines had higher concentrations of the active ingredient that was labeled.
McNeil shut down the plant where most of the products under recall were made after the Food and Drug Administration found severe manufacturing problems and unacceptable manufacturing conditions there. At least two senators and other congressional investigators looked into the recalls and found troubling contradictions and phantom recalls in addition to the known problems. The FDA, which is still investigating the matter, also said it is weighing criminal penalties against the company in connection with its recalls.
The latest recall, an expansion of the one from January, involves 21 lots of over-the-counter medicines such as Benadryl Allergy Ultratab, Children's Tylenol Meltaways, Motrin IB, Tylenol Extra Strength and Tylenol PM. As before, McNeil said the recall is being taken as a precautionary measure.
While Johnson & Johnson and McNeil promised to take steps to resolve the quality control issues, from this most recent recall, it appears that hasn't happened yet. Johnson & Johnson said it would submit an action plan to FDA by July 15.
While the company's sales of these drugs were hurt and its reputation damaged, the over-the-counter medications in question produce only a small fraction of Johnson & Johnson's revenue, and JNJ stock hasn't reacted much to the events.
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