For the second time in less than a year, Johnson & Johnson is overhauling leadership at its embattled consumer health unit, which has spawned an embarrassing and long-running scandal over a series of manufacturing gaffes. In the latest shift, the health care giant is replacing a company group chairman who was chartered with reviving McNeil Consumer Healthcare.
The departure? Patrick Mutchler, who is now retiring but only last April was tasked with reviving McNeil, which has so for lost more than $1 billion in sales of a wide array of over-the-counter items, including Tylenol, Benadryl and Motrin (see this). Mutchler spent about 35 years at J&J and will be replaced by Roberto Marques, who heads J&J's consumer businesses in North America.
Day-to-day operations will continue to be run by Denice Torres, who was shifted to that job in April as part of the last reorganization (read here). Meanwhile, the other departure is Pericles Stamatiades, a 28-year veteran who served as chief strategist since last spring and previously headed the beauty-care business, which makes Aveeno lotions and shampoos, notes The Wall Street Journal which first reported the shift.
The latest changes, which also involve the elimination of more than 100 jobs at faciliites in Skillman, New Jersey, come as the health care giant struggles to revive its faltering McNeil unit. A shuttered plant in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, for instance, is still being overhauled and is not expected to reopen until some time next year.
Although Wall Street views Johnson & Johnson as bigger than the sum of its parts, the McNeil problems over the past two years have led to a consent decree with the FDA; highly publicized congressional hearings; hundreds of job losses; eroded consumer confidence; various lawsuits; ongoing lost sales, and repeated calls for ceo Bill Weldon to resign.
The recalls of over-the-counter products, however, continue to hover over the executive team. Such venerable items as Tylenol and Motrin were pulled off store shelves to musty smells and metallic flacks in some bottles. And reclaiming shelf space will prove to be a marketing challenge, especially since shipments of relatively few products have resumed.