Johnson & Johnson reorganizes consumer unit

AP News
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Posted: Mar 30, 2011 6:50 PM
Johnson & Johnson reorganizes consumer unit

Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday that it is reorganizing its consumer business, including giving more attention to its McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit, which has been stung by around 20 recalls of popular over-the-counter products like Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl.

The company said the consumer businesses will be organized into North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe-Middle East-Africa. The changes will take effect April 4. The U.S. over-the-counter drug business will constitute yet another organization so that Johnson & Johnson can focus on McNeil, which sells products such as Tylenol, Motrin, Rolaids, and Benadryl. McNeil had been part of a larger group of consumer health care units.

Johnson & Johnson said the changes will allow it to "give focused attention to quality and compliance, and the critical task of restoring McNeil Consumer Healthcare brands."

The New Brunswick, N.J., company said Pat Mutchler will be in charge of the McNeil business. He will also lead other divisions including McNeil Nutritionals, Wellness & Prevention, and the company's joint venture with Merck & Co.

McNeil products have been the subject of repeated recalls since September 2009, taking tens of millions of bottles of products like Tylenol and Motrin off the shelves. The New Brunswick, N.J., company said those problems cost it $900 million in sales in 2010. They also caught the attention of regulators, and the federal government recently took control of a plant in Port Washington, Pa., which was involved in many of the recalls.

Another recall was announced Tuesday, when the company pulled about 34,000 bottles of Tylenol 8 Hour off the shelves because of a musty odor. The odor was responsible for five previous recalls. Johnson & Johnson said the smell was caused by trace amounts of a chemical used to treat wooden shipping pallets. The company said it stopped using those wooden pallets in January.

Johnson & Johnson said it announced the reorganization internally in February. The company said Grace Castano will lead its Asia-Pacific business, Jose Justino will lead the Europe-Middle East-Africa unit, Roberto Marques will be chairman for North America, and Susan Rivetti will be in charge of the Latin America division.

Johnson & Johnson shares rose 16 cents to $59.38 Wednesday, and the stock picked up a penny to $59.39 in aftermarket trading.