North Carolina and 42 States Reach $33 Million Settlement with Johnson & Johnson for Quality of Over-the-Counter Drugs

The settlement resolves allegations that Johnson & Johnson unlawfully promoted over-the-counter drugs despite issues at manufacturing facilities and adulterated drugs

North Carolina and 42 States Reach $33 Million Settlement with Johnson & Johnson for Quality of Over-the-Counter Drugs
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May 31, 2017

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and 42 other state attorneys general have announced a $33 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson over the companies' claims regarding the quality of over-the-counter drugs through a wholly-owned distributor called McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division.

"Anyone who is sick and trying to get better is counting on the drug companies to tell the truth," said Attorney General Stein. "Misrepresenting these commonly used drugs is not acceptable. I will not allow drug companies to cut corners when North Carolinians' health is at stake."

The settlement resolves allegations that Johnson & Johnson, through McNeil, unlawfully promoted over-the-counter drugs despite issues at manufacturing facilities and adulterated drugs. In some cases, the benefits and qualities of these drugs were misrepresented.

Drugs including Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, St. Joseph's Aspirin, Sudafed, Pepcid, Mylanta, Rolaids, Zyrtec and Zyrtec Eye Drops—several of which are used for children—were recalled due to these concerns. However, in some cases, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) only learned about issues after obtaining a memo that directed McNeil employees to conduct a "phantom recall"—wherein they asked employees to purchase all affected drugs without notifying customers.

In addition to the $33 million, the settlement requires McNeil to abide by stringent marketing and promotional practices and report to the attorneys general when a recall occurs.

In addition to North Carolina, the other states participating in the settlement with Johnson & Johnson are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.