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Congress expands J&J probe

US Congress has expanded its enquiry into J&J's Motrin recall by beginning to investigate companies that may have assisted in the effort

Edolphus Towns, the New York Democrat who chairs the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has expanded his inquiry into Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) 2008 Motrin recall by beginning to investigate companies that may have assisted in the effort.

Towns is looking into whether a contractor was hired in late 2008 to covertly buy up the suspect product from retailers in order to get it off the market without conducting a formal recall, a plan dubbed a "phantom" recall. The allegations came to light at a recent hearing designed to probe J&J/McNeil's recall this year of popular paediatric medicines - including Children's Tylenol - due to manufacturing issues.

According to Towns, it appears that J&J may have initiated the formal recall of Motrin in 2008 only after the FDA contacted the company with its concerns about the "phantom" recall.

Towns said the Committee has obtained a document showing that the San Diego-based company WIS was hired by Carolina Supply Chain Services (now a division of Inmar) on behalf of J&J to buy up the affected Motrin.

The Congressman has issued formal requests for information to WIS and Inmar, asking about their relationship with J&J and for details on their alleged role in the phantom recall.

Separately, the lawmaker has also issued a letter to Blacksmith Brands, following that company's recall of four types of its Pediacare children's medicines that were manufactured at the same Fort Washington, Pennsylvania-based J&J/McNeil plant as the recalled Motrin.

The committee is asking Blacksmith Brands for information about whether the company is aware of any contamination of Blacksmith product manufactured at the J&J plant and about whether it has received any adverse event reports.

The letter also instructs the firm to turn over copies of records relating to the May 28 Pediacare recall, including all communications between Blacksmith and J&J, McNeil, and the US Food and Drug Administration.

11th June 2010

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