J&J Sued For Trying To Avoid Recall By Sending People To Buy Up Defective Motrin

from the health-and-safety dept

Consumerist points us to the rather stunning story of how pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson tried to avoid doing an actual recall on defective Motrin it discovered by, instead, hiring people to go around the country buying up the pills. For those who already bought them? Too bad. The company did eventually do a full recall and has admitted that it probably should have told regulators that it was secretly buying up all the medicine. One of the people hired to buy up the product realized that something underhanded was going on and alerted officials. The instruction sheet he had been given stated:
"You should simply 'act' like a regular customer when making these purchases. THERE MUST BE NO MENTION OF THIS BEING A RECALL OF THIS PRODUCT!"
When the guy was questioned as to why he was buying such a large amount of Motrin he just brushed aside the questions. Separately, J&J emails reveal that execs congratulated each other on a "great job" and a "major win" for originally avoiding having to do a full recall. Feeling safer?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:21am

    J&J has a long reputation of doing these secretive recalls. They're still one of the better 'pharmaceutical' corporations out there in terms of ethics though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:24am

    Re:

    "They're still one of the better 'pharmaceutical' corporations out there in terms of ethics though."

    That's like being the best athlete in your rec league. Relatively speaking, you're still horrible....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Matthew (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:25am

    Re:

    Assuming we take this comment at face value and even accept it as true, doesn't this just paint an even worse picture of the industry as a whole?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:25am

    Re:

    (though lately I'm starting to question their ethics a bit more. They've been having some pretty bad quality control issues lately that seem to have to do with cutting costs. Lets hope this doesn't get worse).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:30am

    Anyone else reminded of The Third Man?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    johnjac (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:40am

    Tylenol Scare

    How the mighty have fallen. Johnson & Johnson handling of the 1982 Tylenol Scare has been long praised and exemplified as how to handle a crisis.

    I guess that was a fluke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re:

    Or being the best pizza place outside of Chicago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Qritiqal (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Or being the best IP lawyer

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    best, or most honest?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    N2iT (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 9:16am

    What was wrong with pills were they going to kill people

    I think that if the problem with the pills was enough to seriously hurt someone then what they did was absolutely wrong and some should go to jail but I can't see the company making such a bad choice under those circumstances

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    DH's Love Child (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Or being the best lawyer

    There, FTFY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 9:48am

    For Anyone Who Doesn't Want to Read the Link

    Congressional records and Kroger's complaint say the trouble started at a manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico. The company learned in November 2008 that a batch of Motrin tablets didn't dissolve as fast as expected, impairing how much ibuprofen a consumer would get.

    So the problem was that the pills were not as effective as they should have been.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 10:05am

    Re: For Anyone Who Doesn't Want to Read the Link

    "So the problem was that the pills were not as effective as they should have been."
    Make you feel better that they were selling pills that didn't work?
    Still, regardless of the effects, or lack thereof, the issue was they were covering up a defect.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Valkor, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 10:23am

    Ethics and perception

    On the one hand, this batch of ineffective pills seems to have only gone into little 8-packs. I doubt any one relying on Motrin for a serious medical reason would be buying that *few*. On the other hand, JJ kept shipping the things for FOUR MONTHS and didn't do their little "secret shopper" trick for three months after that. On the gripping hand, if JJ doesn't mind selling 800 packages of placebo in Oregon, should I trust ANYTHING they sell? It looks like their desire to avoid a recall on even a small number of meds is very high, and their value placed on customer service very low.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Or being the best pizza place outside of New York City.

    FTFY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Or believing your bubble of a city is the best example of a product anywhere.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re: For Anyone Who Doesn't Want to Read the Link

    They were covering it up by eating an expense, that would never have harmed anyone. While bad, not as bad as the complete lack of disclosure of 100+ companies (minus Google, partially) after breaches occurred one year ago upon their Information Systems. (We still don't know what these 100 companies that China/etc may have root on.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 11:39am

    "They're still one of the better 'pharmaceutical' corporations out there in terms of ethics though."

    That's like being the best athlete in your rec league. Relatively speaking, you're still horrible....


    Relatively speaking, wouldn't you be the best? Absolutely speaking, you'd be horrible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Seth, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    The Oregonian?

    The Oregonian broke this story? I didn't know they still had any staff working there. I can't even remember the last "news" story I read that was not simply from one of the wire services.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: For Anyone Who Doesn't Want to Read the Link

    I wasn't being an industry apologist. Just stating a fact. =)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: For Anyone Who Doesn't Want to Read the Link

    that would never have harmed anyone.

    I wouldn't go that far. I don't feel I'm qualified to make that kind of medical determination.

    Sure, you and I may just take aspirin (as an example) for minor aches and pains, but there might be people out there taking it as a blood thinner, where ineffectiveness on its part could have deadly results.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 2:17pm

    They’re Banned From Using The Ban To Promote The Work, But ...

    ... are they banned from using the ban on using the ban to promote the work, to promote the work?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    best, or most honest?

    Is there a difference?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:11pm

    Re:

    (Oh, now I remember what they're called. They're called soft recalls).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:29pm

    J&J is a pharmaceutical company? Really? What drug have they invented (by themselves) and brought to market in the last 10 years?

    Seems like a holding company or a venture capital firm to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I don't believe anything. I just like being inflammatory.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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