J&J Subsidiary to Pay $33 Million due to Tainted Products

Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

McNeill PPC, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has agreed to pay 42 states $33 million, including a $1.04 million payment to New Jersey, to settle allegations that it distributed contaminated over-the-counter drugs and unlawfully marketed those products, the New Jersey Law Journal reports.

The settlement, announced in May, was the result of an investigation led by the Pennsylvania and Texas Offices of Attorney General. New Jersey was one of 10 states on the executive committee handling the matter, according to a statement from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. “The products at issue in this case are well-known over-the-counter medications – pain relievers, decongestants, antacids, and other remedies commonly found in people’s medicine cabinets,” Attorney General Christopher Porrino said in a statement. “It’s essential that people who buy and consume these products be able to do so with confidence, and without feat that they may be tainted in some way, or manufactured in substandard facilities.”

Pennsylvania and Texas headed the executive committee that included Attorneys General from Arizona, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, and Ohio.

Popular Over-the-Counter Drugs Recalled

Pennsylvania is to recover $1.4 million. McNeill operated a plant in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. According to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s Office, recalled hundreds of millions of packages of drugs manufactured from 2009 through 2011.

The recalls came in the middle of reports of product defects, that included strange smells and particles found in McNeil’s liquid medicines. The recalled drugs included Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, St. Joseph Aspirin, Sudafed, Pepcid, Mylanta, Rolaids, Zyrtec, and Zyrtec Eye Drops, some of which were meant for pediatric use, according to the New Jersey Law Journal.

“We’re proud Pennsylvania helped lead this national effort to ensure health care companies are held accountable when they mislead consumers about the quality of the products they put into the marketplace,” Shapiro said in a statement. “It’s particularly troubling that many of the drugs that were found to be contaminated in this case were designated for infants and children.”

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Prior Investigations Involving McNeil

McNeil had already been investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for quality control issues, resulting in a misdemeanor guilty plea that included a criminal fine of $20 million and the forfeiture of an additional $5 million, reports FOX43 News.

State Attorneys General launched an investigation into claims that McNeil’s marketing of some of its drugs was false, misleading, and deceptive because the drugs were allegedly not manufactured in compliance with federal requirements. The states’ settlement resolves claims that McNeil unlawfully promoted its over-the-counter drugs as compliant with federal good manufacturing practices, a system that ensures products are consistently produced and meet quality standards.

In addition, McNeil was the defendant in a Pennsylvania-based federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) brought by consumers over Tylenol’s potential to cause liver damage. That litigation ended in a settlement of an undisclosed amount in February, reports the New Jersey Law Journal.

An MDL is created for complex lawsuits to streamline the process by consolidating the cases with similar complaints to one court with one judge. This saves court costs, allows a faster outcome, and is typically more efficient.

The recent agreement announced, “establishes a global private settlement program to resolve Tylenol claims (whether filed or unfiled) of the claimants against the McNeil defendants and through which the claimants have agreed to settle their Tylenol claims,” court papers said. Plaintiffs in the federal MDL claimed taking Tylenol caused liver damage, and in some cases death. The first case in the MDL, which began in 2013, was being prepared for trial until settlement conferences commence over the course of the summer.

In the event of a future recall, the settlement requires McNeil to provide information to the Attorneys General regarding the identity of wholesalers and warehouses where the over-the-counter drugs subject to the recall were distributed.

McNeil’s settlement with the 42 states, in addition to the $33 million payout, restricts “inappropriate advertising,” and implements additional consumer safeguards to protect consumers., reports the New Jersey Journal.


Legal Information Concerning Recalled Drugs

If you or someone you know have been affected by recalled pharmaceuticals, you may have valuable legal rights. Parker Waichman LLP offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact our personal injury attorneys at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).