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Congress summons J&J chief executive

Published on 23/06/10 at 10:18am

The Congressional committee looking into the recalls ordered by Johnson & Johnson unit McNeil Consumer Healthcare is planning to hold a second hearing on the matter.

This time, J&J chief executive William Weldon is expected to attend, according to Edolphus Towns, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Once again, the hearing will cover the recall of more than 40 paediatric medicines announced because of quality compliance issues in April, including bacterial contamination of excipients used in the manufacture of some products and particles of acetaminophen, cellulose, nickel and chromium in others.

Manufacturing at the firm's Fort Washington facility has been suspended in the wake of the recall, which involved widely-used paediatric health products including liquid formulations of Tylenol (acetaminophen), the antihistamine Zyrtec (cetirizine), cough medicine Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and painkiller Motrin (ibuprofen).

Increasingly, however, the focus of the Congressional committee seems to be turning toward the "phantom recall" of Motrin in 2009. In that case it is alleged that contractors hired by the company bought back supplies of the drug in order to avoid a public recall notice.

Weldon was asked to testify before the committee at its first hearing last month, but said he was unable to attend because he was recovering from back surgery. Colleen Goggins, worldwide chair of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Group, spoke at the hearing in his place.

The second hearing was originally scheduled to be held on June 30 but has been postponed and a new date has not yet been announced.

Phil Taylor

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