LINDA A. JOHNSONTwo executives at Johnson & Johnson's recall-riddled consumer health business are departing in two months. The longtime executives are leaving after a 2 1/2-year span that's seen two dozen recalls of Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and other nonprescription drugs and a congressional investigation of the handling of the recalls. The company's disclosure Tuesday comes a week after J&J said a McNeil Consumer Healthcare factory, shuttered since April 2010 for a top-to-bottom makeover, won't reopen until 2013, instead of this year. Federal regulators are now closely overseeing that closed factory in Fort Washington, Pa., and two others, in Puerto Rico and Lancaster, Pa., that make nonprescription liquid medicines and pills for adults and children. Most of the products recalled â¿¿ for nauseating odors, improper levels of ingredients and tiny glass or metal particles in liquid medicines â¿¿ are still not back in stores as J&J works to switch production to other factories, and some won't be back until year's end. That's cost the company more than $1 billion in lost sales, not to mention the goodwill of many consumers, although no injuries have been linked to the recalls. Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J., said that Patrick Mutchler, group chairman for over-the-counter drugs, nutritionals and wellness and prevention products, is retiring after 35 years with the health care giant. Pericles Stamatiades, who headed global strategy for consumer businesses including skin, dental and baby products, is leaving after 28 years at J&J. Each is leaving at the end of March, a company spokeswoman said. Both men took their current posts in April 2011, the same month J&J reorganized its consumer business by geographic regions, making nonprescription drugs a separate business. Johnson & Johnson said at the time that the changes would allow it to "give focused attention to quality and compliance, and the critical task of restoring McNeil Consumer Healthcare brands."
In a statement Tuesday, J&J said "the U.S. OTC business "will continue to be operated as a separate, integrated business in order to maintain its focus on quality and compliance, and on the successful reintroduction of OTC medicines in the U.S. market."Denice Torres will remain president of the U.S. OTC business. Roberto Marques, group chairman for the consumer business in North America, will take over Mutchler's duties. J&J said the business units under Stamatiades would be assigned to other managers in the company. "Between the two of them, Pat and Pericles represent over 60 years of experience in our consumer family of companies," Jesse Wu, worldwide chairman of J&J's consumer group, said in a statement. "Through their contributions to our business, ... (they) have left an extraordinary legacy for us to build on." Consumer products is one of three business segments at Johnson & Johnson, which also makes prescription drugs and medical devices. Each of those businesses has had its own product recalls, for HIV and seizure medicines and for faulty hip implants and stinging contact lenses, since the wave of recalls at McNeil Consumer Healthcare began in September 2009. ___ Linda A. Johnson can be followed at http://twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma