You can be forgiven for losing count. The latest stain on the once-venerable health care giant is a recall of 585,000 surgical sutures in the UK due to a risk the products are not sterile. Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon unit actually issued a notice to healthcare providers in December, but the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency issued an alert earlier today.
The sutures are marketed under various brand names - Ethilon, Ethibond, Mersilene and Mersilk - and are used to close surgical incisions and wounds. Some of the products in the 140 lots that were recalled may not have been sealed properly, posing a risk that they could become infected, according to the notice, which you can read here. J&J tells the Associated Press that the problem was caused by "modifications of manufacturing equipment" that have since been corrected. We await a comment concerning any patients who may have been harmed. UPDATE: A J&J Ethicon spokeswoman wrote us to say there were no adverse events reported.
For those who have somehow missed the J&J travails of the past year - or cannot simply keep up - a wide array of products have been recalled: over-the-counter meds, syringes, contact lenses and hip replacement devices. And last week, 660,000 Sudafed packages because the labeling has an extra ‘not’ in the instructions. Yes, a typo was the culprit.
As noted previously, serious quality control problems - from hip replacement devices that leech cobalt and chromium particles causing tissue death, musty smelling tablets, cracked syringes or contact lenses that cause stinging eye pain - have prompted job losses, loss of investor confidence, $900 million in lost sales, congressional investigations, regulatory scrutiny (see the list) and eroding consumer trust.