Johnson & Johnson will begin to ship some over-the-counter children's medicine that was recalled earlier this year as soon as next week, company CEO William Weldon told federal officials on Wednesday.
“During the week of October 4, we will begin shipping one of McNeil children’s medicine products to our customers,” Weldon told the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a prepared statement. “Although it will be available only in limited quantities at first, we have been able to achieve this step by working closely with the FDA and our Canadian affiliate.”
No specific product was named. However, according to Weldon, the company will release almost 1 million bottles next week and expects to distribute a total of 4 million in the U.S. by the end of the year. The medications were recalled after the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that the medications coming for the company’s Fort Washington facility were contaminated with bacteria.
Johnson & Johnson (Stock Quote: JNJ) said in June that it would probably not have supplies for some 40 varieties of medications recalled earlier this year until at least 2011, since the recall led to the closure of plant. Nearly 300 employees were laid off as a result of the findings and the plant has yet to reopen. In order to expedite the process, the company will manufacture the soon-to-be-released medications at one of its Canadian facilities.
Weldon appeared before the oversight committee on Wednesday in a hearing that examined the circumstances surrounding the April 30 recall of more than 135 million bottles of Children's Tylenol and other popular pediatric medicines produced by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
The appearance included a public apology for the massive drug recall that included children’s Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl products.
"I know that we let the public down,” Weldon said in his testimony. “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. "
Weldon said the company has taken steps during the past five months to ensure that their products are manufactured properly, including changing its organizational structure, hiring new executives in charge of quality control and working with an independent, third-party consulting firm to establish the most effective production systems.
Additionally, the company says it will invest more than $100 million to improve the Ft. Washington facility's operations.
“The facility will not open until we are confident that we can make McNeil products to the high quality standards that the public, Congress, and the FDA rightly expect from us,” Weldon said.
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