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J&J consumer head retires amid probe

Johnson & Johnson has said that the head of its consumer products group will take early retirement as an investigation over product recalls continues

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has announced that the head of its consumer products group will take early retirement as Congress deepens its probe of the company's recent recalls of over 135 million bottles of nonprescription paediatric medicines.

J&J said Colleen Goggins, worldwide chairman, Consumer Group, would retire from the company at the age of 56, effective March 1, 2011. A replacement was not announced.

Goggins has been with J&J for nearly 30 years. She was named president, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, in 1995, promoted to company group chairman in 1998, and tapped as a member of the Executive Committee in 2001.

News of the executive's planned departure came just as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued a letter asking her to testify at a September 30 hearing on the recalls. The hearing, which is the second that the committee has conducted on the matter this year, will focus in part on a "phantom" recall of a potentially tainted Motrin (ibuprofen) product, in which the drug was bought up from retail stores by contractors in order to get it off the shelves without issuing a formal recall.

"Since the committee's first investigative hearing, we have received additional information from Johnson & Johnson and from the subcontractors who conducted the phantom recall at Johnson & Johnson's direction," the committee's letter to Goggins states. "Much of the information we have reviewed raises additional questions."

"For example, when you appeared before the committee on May 27, 2010, you testified that you were not aware of the behaviour of the contractors who conducted the phantom recall," the letter continues. "However, after that hearing, the committee obtained a Johnson & Johnson/McNeil document that instructed the contractors how to behave while conducting the phantom recall."

The letter instructs Goggins to be prepared to discuss the "apparent inconsistency" at the hearing later this month.

William C Weldon, J&J's chairman and CEO, has also been asked to appear at the hearing.

17th September 2010

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