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Motrin Recall: Oregon Sues over Secret Recall

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By Jason Beahm on January 19, 2011 5:52 AM

Johnson & Johnson is facing a lawsuit for secretly conducting a "phantom recall."

The Oregon Attorney General claims Johnson & Johnson conducted a "phantom recall" or Motrin, without properly informing consumers after the company discovered defective supplies of the painkiller. The Motrin recall action has been the subject of a congressional investigation, the Associated Press reports.

In early 2009, Johnson & Johnson used private contractors to purchase stocks of suspect Motrin from convenience stores and gas stations. According to the FDA, McNeil, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, said it was only sampling Motrin tablets from the stores for quality control. However, "secret shoppers" were allegedly buying out all of the Motrin, without announcing a recall to the FDA, the Oregon complaint alleges.

"It would be a disaster if these kinds of phantom recalls became an acceptable business practice...that they have to do proper recalls that give consumers real notice," Oregon Attorney Journal John Kroger said, The New York Times reports.

Kroger alleges that Johnson & Johnson and two subsidiaries knew in late 2008 that certain types of Motrin did not dissolve properly and could cause the consumers to fail to receive the dose of ibuprofen. Oregon Attorney General Kroger alleges that the improper Motrin recall put Johnson & Johnson's fear of publicity ahead of consumers' interests, Reuters reports.

"[I]f you have a defective health product, you cannot do a phantom recall," Kroger told Reuters. "[What's] scary is that, if a company does a successful phantom recall, no one knows about it."

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