It's going to take a while longer for Johnson & Johnson to get rid of the headaches provoked by a string of recalls of popular over-the-counter drugs.
The drug company is backing off predictions that it would resolve its manufacturing problems this year, the New York Times reports. Products like Infants' Tylenol, Pepcid Complete, eight-hour Tylenol, and Simply Sleep may be unavailable until 2013, Dominic Caruso, J&J's chief financial officer, said during a conference call with investors and reporters yesterday, the Times reports.
Whether consumers who've been hearing about massive recalls for three years will resume using those products is another story.
"We are behind where we thought we would be at this point," Caruso said, according to the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey. The main reason is it's taking longer than expected to fix problems at the Philadelphia-area plant where Johnson & Johnson makes most of its most popular over-the-counter drugs, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Over the past three years, Johnson & Johnson has been forced to yank packages of Tylenol, Motrin, Rolaids, Benadryl, Pepcid, Zyrtec, Mylanta, and other products off store shelves due to manufacturing problems. In many cases, consumers opening bottles of Tylenol and other drugs were confronted with musty, moldy, and otherwise foul smells, according to a Reuters timeline of J&J's troubles.
Johnson & Johnson's corporate reputation survived seven murders committed with poisoned Tylenol in 1982. Now, the company must recover from a series of self-inflicted wounds. Nearly two dozen recalls contributed to a 2.4 percent decline in sales of consumer health care products during the first quarter of this year, J&J announced this week. Amid the controversy, longtime CEO William Weldon has decided to leave this post this month, though he will remain chairman.
The Food and Drug Administration stepped in last year to oversee the rehabilitation of plants where the drugs were made. Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Healthcare division shut down the Fort Washington, Pa., plant in April 2010, the Inquirer reported. Another Pennsylvania facility and one in Puerto Rico are still in operation.
In spite of the bad news for Johnson & Johnson's consumer health care business and a slight decline in overall first-quarter sales to $16.1 billion, the company announced yesterday that profits rose 12.5 percent to $3.91 billion during the first three months of this year.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post inaccurately said Children's Tylenol currently is not available. Johnson & Johnson recalled some lots of Children's Tylenol in 2010 but the product has since returned to store shelves. Infants' Tylenol remains off the market.