Factory That Made Moldy, Barfy Recalled Tylenol Closes For Upgrades, 300 Lose Jobs

Johnson & Johnson announced late yesterday that they will lay off most of the employees of the Philadelphia-area factory that produced the controversial musty, stinky pills recalled earlier this year. Staff have been on full pay and benefits since the plant shut down in April, but the controversial (that is: filthy) facility will close down for upgrades until some undefined point in 2011.

You may recall that the Food and Drug Administration investigated conditions at the plant and found bacteria in raw materials, poor quality controls, and general dirtiness.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The company said in a statement that it will make a “significant investment” in refitting the plant and that it will be out of service for a “protracted period of time.”

Analysts say the Fort Washington plant might not reopen until the second half of next year, and the company could lose $500 million in revenue or more.

Aww, poor company. We’re sure that Johnson & Johnson executives have some real headaches because of all this. They should take some generic acetaminophen.

J&J Submits Plan to Fix Tylenol Plant Problems [Wall Street Journal]

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Johnson & Johnson Hit With Fraud And Racketeering Lawsuits Over Tylenol Recalls
Johnson & Johnson Hired Fake Shoppers To Buy Up Bad Motrin, Avoid Public Recall
Congress Opens Investigation Into Children’s Tylenol Recall
Criminal Charges Are Possible For Tylenol Recall Scandal


Edit Your Comment

  1. SkokieGuy says:

    Let’s not forget that big Pharma has blocked every effort at allowing importation of drugs “in order to protect the consumer”.

    • Emperor Norton I says:

      This plant was OTC medicine & had nothing to do with the ban on importing prescription drugs from overseas.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        So you don’t see any irony in pharmaceutical companies spending huge amounts of money to lobby Congress to ban drug importation due to safety, while at the same time not monitoring the conditions in their own plants?

  2. HoJu says:

    I’d feel bad if I didn’t think most of those 300 people were a big part of perpetuating the problem.

    • grucifer says:

      I highly doubt every single one of those 300 contributed to the uncleanliness of this factory. Maybe it’s because this is local to me, but I feel for those men and women.

      I wonder if all the middle and upper management team was also let go, as I would imagine they are more responsible than the factory floor workers.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        There’s a funny thing about being the factory worker – you’d notice the conditions much faster than the upper management at the factory. Just by the virtue of the job. The CFO, by the nature of his duties, would rarely set foot on the floor.

        I think there is plenty of blame to go around. The workers should have blown the whistle on the dirty conditions. And management shouldn’t have let it get that bad.

        • grucifer says:

          And I didn’t say only middle/upper management was to blame, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept their jobs and were just relocated to other factories and that, I think, is wrong.

          Obviously this is all just conjecture but I do agree there is plenty of blame to go around.

          • webweazel says:

            I seem to recall a lot of the cleanliness issues started soon after a certain manager came on the job. Cost-cutting and generally not giving a crap was what came out of him over time. I bet he was a pearl to work for. From other managers all the way to the line workers, I have a feeling he was probably a real jackass for things to get that bad and nobody calling him on his behavior. I wonder what company he’s managing now?

        • Draygonia says:

          Management is ultimately responsible for the work (or lack of) of their workers. You cannot hold the workers reponsible one bit. That is how the world works.

        • Dean says:

          Yeah, the workers probably did blow the whistle, which was ignored since low level employees have no leverage and their advice is not typically considered valuable capital – cleanliness concerns especially.

        • runswithscissors says:

          I would almost guarantee no management lost their jobs in all this. That’s how business works.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Whoah bud. Do you know how crappy the pharma industry treats their employees?

      Also, we’re not talking about visible dirt. They all work in clean rooms which have to get cleaned over and over again – top to bottom with bleach basically.

      The real problem is the way that these manufacturing facilities are run – high pressure, no time off, switching between day/night shifts, and high turnover rate. Most of the workers will get fired if they make one mistake, so of course they’re going to cover any little thing up.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        Do you know how crappy the pharma industry treats their employees?

        You probably shouldn’t generalize too much. I worked for Merck for about two years and we had very good pay and absolutely amazing benefits.

  3. TuxthePenguin says:

    Maybe I’m just pointing out the obvious… but shouldn’t the FDA be monitoring the factories producing our medicine? You’d think that they’d check at least once a year. Heck, they should probably also do surprise inspections.

    You know, like we subject our banks and public companies to through audits.

    Just saying…

    • Bort says:

      this may be a good example of why corporations donate to political parties

    • SkokieGuy says:

      From 2002 article: The Associated Press reports that “just last week, the FDA ordered a Georgia tissue bank to recall soft tissue grafts because it couldn’t guarantee they were free of bacterial contamination. Drug maker Schering Plough recently agreed to a $500 million FDA fine for quality-control violations; Eli Lilly & Co. last month said factory problems could delay as many as five drugs under FDA review; and Abbott Laboratories in 1999 paid a $100 million fine in agreeing to clean up its plants.”

      But rather than accelerating inspections and enforcement to ensure quality control, FDA reduced its factory compliance inspections from 4,300 in 1980 to just 1,600 last year. Fewer inspections produce fewer critical report findings, but fewer inspections mean that American consumers are at increased risk of contaminated medicines.


  4. Judah says:

    Just think, if they had good maintenance at the place, they could have saved $500 million. Quite a lot to lose because they decided to cut corners with janitors.

  5. Whuffo says:

    There was more wrong than just bad janitors – for a drug plant to operate in this fashion for so long clearly shows that the management was aware of the problem and chose not to do anything about it.

    Unless you’re one of the contrary troll posters who can figure out how to blame it on some worker who was so crafty as to hide it from the management through the recalls and investigation.