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J&J recall plant will be closed all year

Published on 29/06/10 at 09:50am

The manufacturing facility at the centre of Johnson & Johnson's product recall woes is likely to stay closed until at least the end of the year.

The Fort Washington factory in Pennsylvania was shut down in April this year after serious quality control problems led to the recall of thousands of infants' and children's liquid over-the-counter (OTC) products, including big-selling brands such as Tylenol, Benadryl and Motrin.

McNeil now says it "does not anticipate having sources of supply for most of the products" that were produced at the facility, adding that some adult products made there are also affected.

However, it added that "the majority of McNeil's US OTC business is not impacted by the ongoing suspension of manufacturing at the Fort Washington plant".  

US regulator the FDA has said it does not anticipate any shortages in the products used to treat infants and children as there are alternative sources of supply.
McNeil also divulged in its statement that the average annual sales of the products manufactured at the facility over the last three years were approximately $650 million, prompting some financial analysts to trim back their sales and earnings targets for the company in 2010.

While many analysts are predicting that the impact of the closure on J&J will be minor financially - the company itself is predicting 2010 sales of $63.5 to $64.5 billion - the effect on its reputation is less certain.

Last week, the Congressional investigation into the affair took another turn as it announced another hearing and asked J&J chief executive Bob Weldon to make an appearance. Meanwhile, the FDA has referred the case to its Office of Criminal Investigations.

McNeil said it continues to assess the quality problems at the Fort Washington plant and although it has identified corrective actions that need to be taken, it still has not finalised plans to resume production.

Phil Taylor

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