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Major Drug Company in Hot Seat Again

October 18, 2010 | 47,327 views

drug and moneyJohnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Thursday, September 30, apologizing for making a mistake and letting the public down with the numerous recalls his company has had lately.

In a report by CNNMoney.com, Weldon also admitted that the company secretly bought up defective drugs without informing regulators and consumers of its actions. The Times reported Weldon as saying in prepared remarks to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"I know that we let the public down. We did not maintain our high quality standards. Children do not have access to our important medicines. I accept full accountability for the problems and I will take full accountability for fixing them."

CNN also said that Weldon told the committee that the long delays in issuing product recalls after first becoming aware of adverse event reports and consumer complaints was "an area where we've learned a very important lesson."

"We definitely don't want to defend our actions there and we don't want to make any excuses. We have benefited by being here. I can only assure you that we are doing everything in our power to never let this happen again," he said.

CNN said lawmakers met Weldon's comments "with skepticism."

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Johnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon has publicly admitted that the company not only hid manufacturing problems but also initiated a “phantom recall” last year involving more than 80,000 Motrin tablets.

Rather than announcing the recall and having stores remove the product from shelves, Johnson & Johnson quietly sent in undercover agents disguised as regular shoppers to buy up the remaining stock.

Amazingly, this is not an illegal practice because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have authority to order recalls, or define how they should be conducted. Still, lawmakers cited a “too cozy” relationship between Johnson & Johnson and the FDA, as months apparently passed from when the Agency first learned of J& J’s “recall” plan, and when they eventually sent a message telling them to conduct an official recall.

The FDA further stated that J&J was “hiding the nature of its activities,” which appears to be par for J&J’s course.

More Shady Business from Johnson & Johnson

The Motrin debacle was not the first time Johnson & Johnson took their time in issuing a product recall, and when asked by lawmakers to explain the unsettling pattern, CEO Weldon said:

"This is an area where we've learned a very important lesson. We definitely don't want to defend our actions there and we don't want to make any excuses … We have benefited by being here. I can only assure you that we are doing everything in our power to never let this happen again."

Even lawmakers were skeptical about Weldon’s latter promise, CNN reported, given their sordid history and current problems.

Just this month the government of British Columbia, Canada filed a lawsuit against J&J, which claims they aggressively marketed the “Ortho Evra” contraception patch without disclosing serious side effects like blood clots, pulmonary emboli, strokes, heart attacks and deep vein thrombosis. The suit claims J&J did not provide adequate warnings on labels, conduct long-term use risk studies or provide Health Canada with accurate risk information.

And most of you reading this are probably well aware of the recall earlier this year by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson, on all unexpired lots of certain over-the-counter pediatric drugs, including Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl products.

That recall was made following the discovery of manufacturing deficiencies that could affect the quality, purity and potency of the drugs. For instance, the recalled products could contain:

  1. Higher concentration of active ingredient than specified
  2. Inactive ingredients that may not meet testing requirements
  3. Tiny particles of unspecified origin

Not surprisingly, an FDA inspection at the company’s Ft. Washington, PA plant revealed 20 manufacturing and quality violations, causing the plant to be shut down.

A separate recall also occurred in September 2009, when 21 children’s and infant’s Tylenol liquid products were deemed potentially unsafe due to bacterial contamination found in one of the inactive ingredients.

One of the Top Corporate Criminals

Johnson & Johnson was named by AllBusiness.com as one of the “Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990s!” for deliberately destroying documents related to a criminal investigation case on one its products.

In keeping with their reputation, in January the U.S. Department of Justice accused Johnson & Johnson of paying tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks to Omnicare Inc to buy and recommend Johnson & Johnson drugs.

This latest scheme is the subject of a federal lawsuit that has 18 states suing not just Omnicare, but 14 other major drug companies, alleging that they ran this scheme together.

In the wake of all this hassle, Omnicare’s CEO Joel Gemunder has quit, but not without remuneration. His parting pay is a record $130 million!

And just this May, a J&J subsidiary pleaded guilty to illegally promoting its epilepsy drug Topamax for psychiatric purposes and submitting alleged false claims to Medicare, and in so doing, settled a civil lawsuit in the case for $75 million. So they’re clearly no stranger to fraud and deception.

A Major Breach of Trust

I remember very clearly in October 1982 when seven people were killed because someone tampered with Tylenol and laced it with cyanide, as I was in my medical internship in a hospital rotation. The sick joke at the time was, “Did you hear of the new Tylenol CN (cyanide)?”

This was a serious problem and Johnson & Johnson handled the crisis so well they are frequently studied in business schools for how to respond to a crisis like this. That instance wasn’t their fault, as they were the victim of tampering, but they have been smack dab in the middle of numerous other breaches of public trust that were their fault since then.

With all these recalls and lawsuits occurring, how can any health-conscious consumer trust the safety or the effectiveness of any of these drugs?

And an even more pressing question, why are drug companies ALLOWED to continue maintaining the status quo despite being caught lying, defrauding, even knowingly killing, time and time again?

As long as the system continues unchallenged, unsafe drugs will continue to enter the marketplace at the hands of unscrupulous manufacturers. If you want to do your part in chipping away at the drug industry while looking out for your safety,

I encourage you to reduce and work toward eliminating your reliance on prescription drugs with the recommendations I provide on this site. Well over 90 percent or more of the drugs being prescribed today are completely unnecessary. You can look them up in our site search engine to find options and also use the free nutritional plan to help.

Fortunately, you can do this relatively easily by taking self-responsibility, educating yourself, and making better, healthier choices by adhering to the basic tenets of optimal health.

[+] Sources and References

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