E-mail indicates J&J knew of Motrin plan

By Matthew Perrone
Associated Press / June 12, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Johnson & Johnson executives were briefed on an outside contractor’s plan to buy up defective painkillers instead of issuing a recall, documents obtained by the Associated Press yesterday indicate.

E-mails sent to J&J last spring by contractor Inmar show the company was informed that the plan to purchase thousands of packets of Motrin could “draw scrutiny,’’ in the words of one Inmar executive.

Congressional investigators have been probing J&J’s handling of problems with its Motrin tablets that emerged last year. The maker of consumer products and medicines has attracted scrutiny after a slew of product recalls, most recently involving dozens of children’s medicines.

The communication between J&J and Inmar, a supply-chain management company, appears to contradict testimony from J&J executive Colleen Goggins, who told lawmakers that J&J was not aware of the plan to use contractors posing as customers to buy the defective product.

But a memo signed by J&J’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit instructs Inmar employees to “not communicate to store personnel any information about this product.’’

“Simply visit each store, locate the product, and, if any is found, purchase all of the product,’’ the memo said.