© McNeil Consumer Healthcare
The company is McNeil Consumer Healthcare; it’s a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson and makes household drug names like Tylenol and Motrin. The Associated Press reported yesterday that McNeil will plead guilty to the charges, and the company has reportedly agreed to pay $25 million to resolve the case.
McNeil issued a voluntary recall of tainted products in April 2010, when it was discovered that metal particles were being introduced to the medicines. The problem was traced back to a McNeil plant in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, where chromium, nickel, and iron residue contaminated bottles during the manufacturing process. A May 2009 complaint about black metal specks in a bottle of Infant’s Tylenol first brought McNeil’s attention to the issue. But the company continued to produce and sell bottles for months. There were reportedly no injuries resulting from the medication, but prosecutors accused McNeil of not taking immediate steps to fix the problem.
For Johnson & Johnson, recalls are nothing new. The company made history in 1982 when it issued an enormous and groundbreaking recall of Tylenol after cyanide-laced pills caused the deaths of seven people. Johnson & Johnson pulled 31 million bottles of Tylenol out of stores and offered free replacement medicines to consumers. Like now, the company took responsibility, and its quick action allowed it to continue as a top medication producer.
Despite Tylenol’s ability to bounce back from scandal, many doctors would rather parents avoid those familiar red boxes when it comes to their children. According to the FDA, painkillers and fever reducers like acetaminophen—the main component of Tylenol—can cause serious side effects if children are dosed even slightly more than directed. Parents with a feverish child should consult physicians before giving any medication, and maybe keep an eye on the news too.