McNeil and Johnson & Johnson reach $33 million settlement with 43 state attorneys general

Attorneys general in 42 states, including Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia, announced that they have reached a $33 million civil settlement with Tylenol maker McNeil-PPC, a Johnson & Johnson company, to resolve allegations that the company distributed contaminated over-the-counter medications and made false or misleading representations about the products.

Pennsylvania’s share will be $1.4 million, which will be used to fund future consumer protection efforts, said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. McNeil, based in Fort Washington, Montgomery County, recalled hundreds of millions of packages of drugs manufactured between 2009 and 2011, Shapiro said.

Tylenol Extra Strength is shown in a medicine cabinet.

Complaints included strange odors and particles found in liquid medicines. The recalled drugs — some for children — included Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, St. Joseph Aspirin, Sudafed, Pepcid, Mylanta, Rolaids, Zyrtec, and Zyrtec Eye Drops. McNeil is now part of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.

A prior investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into McNeil’s quality-control issues resulted in a misdemeanor guilty plea in March 2015, a criminal fine of $20 million, and forfeiture of an additional $5 million.

Pennsylvania and Texas headed an executive committee that investigated the McNeil allegations, Shapiro said. The settlement resolves allegations that McNeil and Johnson & Johnson falsely promoted the products as having met federal standards when the Food and Drug Administration had cited some McNeil facilities, including in Pennsylvania, between 2009 and 2011 for not meeting federal practices for good manufacturing.

Under settlement terms, the company is prohibited from unlawful marketing and promotional activities, and in the case of a future recall, McNeil must identify wholesalers and warehouses where the over-the-counter products were distributed.