In the latest flap over Johnson & Johnson product recalls, the Chinese government has taken the health care giant to task for its quality control procedures and, more specifically, allegedly failing to withdraw some products that have been pulled from other markets, according to reports.
Last week, the China Food and Drug Administration met with J&J officials and issued a statement urging improvements in quality control. The agency also vowed to strengthen oversight to ensure timely recalls and pledged to crack down on companies that conduct late or secretive recalls, Global Times writes.
What prompted the meeting? The missive came shortly after a newsletter in Beijing called Health Times reported that J&J conducted at least 51 global product recalls since April 2005, but 48 of those products were not recalled from the mainland Chinese market. In other words, a double standard exists.
The report noted that, last April, J&J recalled nearly 1.7 million bottles of Children’s Tylenol made and sold in South Korea due to a high level of acetaminophen, which may cause liver damage (back story). The J&J unit in Shanghai insisted the bottles were not sold in the mainland. But Health Times disputed the contention.
The newsletter also pointed to a decision last December by a J&J domestic unit to halt sales of the Velcade injection after an order from the CFDA, but Health Times contended the product had already been recalled in the US, UK and Japan a year earlier.
The meeting marked the first time the CFDA held talks with a multinational company over quality problems, indicating that China's watchdog is increasing its attention to drug safety, Liu Baocheng, director of the Center for International Business Ethics at the University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times.
As for J&J, the healthcare giant issued a statement to Asian media saying its mainland Chinese subsidiaries have reported all product recalls conducted in the mainland in accordance with CFDA rules. And a spokesman in the US sent us this: “Johnson & Johnson has a strong commitment to delivering quality products to Chinese consumers as well as our customers all over the world.
“We have one global quality policy that applies worldwide to all of our companies, and when any of our companies initiates a product recall for quality reasons, we work with health authorities to determine the appropriate course of action in the best interest of patients and consumers.”
[UPDATE: And he adds that “there may be instances when quality actions initiated in other parts of the world do not affect a specific country because the products in question are not sold there or the facilities where quality matters have arisen do not manufacture products for that country. When any of our companies initiates a product recall for quality reasons, we work with health authorities to determine the appropriate course of action in the best interest of patients and consumers.”]
Nonetheless, J&J may be suffering from some of the consumer confidence issues seen not long ago in the US. A survey by Eastmoney.com last week found that 91.4 percent of 4,652 respondents would no longer buy any J&J products, Global Times writes. Why? Well, 34 cited continuous quality problems in recent years, while 50 percent pointed to a different attitude toward the mainland market for recalls.
As we have noted previously, over the past three years, J&J (JNJ) has experienced an outsized list of manufacturing problems that have led to recalls of Tylenol, Motrin, Rolaids, Sudafed and Benadryl; K-Y Jelly; Acuvue contact...