Johnson & Johnson Sued by State Over Phantom Motrin Recall

The state of Oregon is suing Johnson & Johnson for hiring people to buy Motrin pain releiver off the shelves so that it would not have to issue a formal recall or tell consumers there was a problem with the drug. Oregon’s Attorney General John Kroger says that the phantom recall placed the public in danger as public disclosure was delayed for over a year. In 2008, McNeil-PPC and McNeil Healthcare subsidiaries of J & J learned that some Motrin bottles were defective. In 2009, the company hired contractors to remove the drug from the shelves. Apparently the drug did not dissolve properly which meant that people might not receive a full dose of medication and could lead to worsening of pain, fever or inflammation, according to FDA documents. Company documents instructing the individuals who purchased the drugs from the shelves said “You should simply ‘act’ like a regular customer while making these purchases. THERE MUST BE NO MENTION OF THIS BEING A RECALL OF THE PRODUCT. If asked, simply state that your employer is checking the distribution chain of this product and needs to have some of it purchased for the project.” In Oregon, 787 bottles sold by retailers are unaccounted for. The Oregon lawsuit alleges multiple violations of its Unlawful Trade Practices Act with penalties of $25,000 per violation. Both J & J and McNeil are under criminal investigation for non-compliance with FDA regulations. It is unclear as to whether other states will follow Oregon to sue J & J.