Johnson & Johnson resumes shipping some Tylenol

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Johnson & Johnson has resumed shipping Tylenol Cold & Flu Severe caplets, one of the many products it had recalled due to a variety of manufacturing deficiencies over the past two years.

Bonnie Jacobs, a spokeswoman for the health care giant’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare business, confirmed late Wednesday that the product, for adults, is shipping this week.

Jacobs could not confirm a report in The Wall Street Journal that the caplets were being manufactured in Italy and said she had no further details.

The company apparently timed resumption of Tylenol Cold & Flu Severe caplets to the upcoming cold and flu season.

J&J, based in New Brunswick, N.J., has announced about two dozen recalls since September 2009, involving well over 300 million bottles of nonprescription medicines, plus some prescription drugs, contact lenses, faulty blood glucose test strips and artificial hips.

Reasons for the unprecedented number of recalls have ranged from nauseating odors on packaging and incorrect levels of active ingredient to contaminants in medicines and painful hip replacements that wore out prematurely and required replacement.

J&J has said some of the recalls were precautionary, but the repeated cases have damaged its once-stellar reputation. Having Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Rolaids and other nonprescription drugs off store shelves so long reduced J&J sales last year by $900 million, or about 1.5 percent.

The timing of the recalls couldn’t have been worse, as many consumers tightening their belts during the recession switched to much-cheaper store brands and will be difficult to win back.

Three J&J factories came under intense scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration, including one in Fort Washington, Pa., that was shut down in spring 2010 and is being rebuilt from the inside out. Company officials earlier this year said they were arranging to have the recalled products made in other factories, but the shifts required advance FDA approval.

At least one other recalled product, grape-flavored children’s Tylenol, already has come back on the market.

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