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J&J CEO Alex Gorsky says company committed to McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said the health-care giant is "absolutely committed" to keeping its McNeil Consumer Healthcare division in Fort Washington and restoring products to store shelves after production problems.

J&J CEO Alex Gorsky says company committed to McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit

New Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky will replace his predecessor, Bill Weldon, as chairman of the board at the end of next month. (Phpto: Johnson & Johnson)
New Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky will replace his predecessor, Bill Weldon, as chairman of the board at the end of next month. (Phpto: Johnson & Johnson)

New York - Johnson & Johnson chief executive officer Alex Gorsky said Tuesday morning that the health-care giant is "absolutely committed" to keeping its McNeil Consumer Healthcare division in Fort Washington and restoring products to store shelves after production problems.

Gorsky spoke at an investor conference held at the Pierre Hotel in New York to discuss the company's financial results for all of 2012 and the fourth quarter.

McNeil Consumer Healthcare makes iconic over-the-counter consumer brands like Tylenol and Motrin, but the Fort Washington factory has not produced medicine since April 2010 and the factories in Lancaster and Las Piedras, Puerto Rico have operated at lower levels because of dozens of recalls.

The division is operating under a consent decree agreed upon with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved by a federal judge. The company has said that it is spending $100 million to fix the Fort Washington facility and the FDA and the federal judge will have to approve the new systems before the facility can resume sending medicines to stores.

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Former employees told the Inquirer that J&J's 2006 acquisition of Pfizer's over-the-counter portfolio added to the load of the Fort Washington plant, while senior managers were pushed out, all of which led to quality problems.

Gorsky said the company has met all of its milestones to date for eventual re-certification of the plant.

"We are taking a prudent approach to production volume," Gorsky said Tuesday, referring to the Lancaster and Las Piedras facilities, which are making a reduced lineup of products.

Gorsky did not give any new firm date for a full resumption, but company officials have said previously they hope that will be in early 2014.

David Sell
About this blog
David Sell blogs about the region's pharmaceutical industry. Follow him on Facebook.

For Inquirer.com. Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section.

Reach David at dsell@phillynews.com.

David Sell
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