Product News and Recalls

Troubled J&J appoints new executive

According to a story in the Boston Globe, Johnson & Johnson has appointed Bayer executive Sandra E. Peterson to oversee the company’s troubled consumer health and manufacturing operations.

The move is an attempt by Alex Gorsky, who became CEO of Johnson & Johnson in April, to address a host of quality, legal and ethical problems involving products and sales practices.

Those problems include what the article characterizes as “an eye-popping series of more than two dozen product recalls” in recent years. Reasons for those recalls range from tiny glass and metal shards in some liquid medicines to the wrong levels of active ingredients and nauseating odors in product packaging.

Johnson & Johnson is also dealing with the legal ramifications of thousands of lawsuits filed over dangerous medical devices that the company has pulled from the market. Those devices include DePuy Orthopaedics all-metal hip implants, recalled in 2010 following studies that showed nearly half of the recipients needed to get them replaced within six years. The implants also tended to shed toxic metal debris in patients’ bodies.

And Johnson & Johnson also pulled four different types of transvaginal mesh implants, which are used to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, following widespread reports of their tendency to fail and cause injuries including chronic pain and organ perforation.

According to the Boston Globe article, the recalls have cost Johnson & Johnson more than $1 billion in lost sales — a key reason why the total company revenue declined in 2009 and 2010 for the first time since the Great Depression. The company has cited higher-than-expected remediation costs as it rebuilds one of its consumer products factories from the ground up, and two others have production slowed by increased government scrutiny.

Peterson, the chief executive of Bayer CropScience, will be the first outsider ever appointed to the executive committee that manages Johnson & Johnson operations.

Bayer itself has experienced legal and accountability problems in recent years over its Yasmin line of birth control.

While all birth control pills can increase the risk of potentially fatal blood clots, a number of studies have shown that pills in the Yasmin line – which include the synthetic hormone drospirenone – can increase that risk up to three times compared to other oral contraceptives on the market.

Pills with drospirenone include Yasmin, Yaz, Beyaz and Ocella.

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns from a transvaginal mesh or metal-on-metal hip implant, or before changing your medications. If you have significant injuries from a Depuy hip, a transvaginal mesh implant or from Beyaz, you should also consult with a Lopez McHugh lawyer to discuss your legal rights.

See the story here: