After Drug Recalls, Johnson & Johnson to Remake Medicine Bottles

Following an unprecedented 22 product recalls, drug and medical device giant Johnson & Johnson plans on introducing new packaging for some of its medications at its upcoming shareholders’ meeting.

According to The Wall Street Journal, packaging will be revised for over-the-counter (OTC) children’s medications to help ensure dosing is more accurate. A timely product enhancement introduction following a rash of <"">Children’s Tylenol and other drug recalls that have left consumers uneasy about purchasing Johnson & Johnson products.

The cap change will enable parents and caretakers to insert a syringe into the top of the medicine bottle, obtaining the correct drug dose, said William Weldon, Johnson & Johnson’s CEO, speaking in an interview with the Health Blog. “We want to take safety to a new level,” he said, quoted the Journal.

The so-called “flow restrictor,” or dose-limiting cap is scheduled to be introduced as a number of medications such as Tylenol and Motrin, are reintroduced to the market following recalls for quality issues, said the Journal. Weldon said the changes will be rolled out from the end of 2011 through the beginning of 2012, wrote the Journal.

The seemingly never-ending string of Johnson & Johnson recalls, as of last month, cost the pharmaceutical manufacturer over $900 million in sales in the past year. The string included at least 20 recalls by its McNeil Consumer Healthcare division that involved hundreds of millions of bottles of adult and children’s formulations of Tylenol, Motrin, and other over-the-counter drugs; the Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ division of its prefilled Invega Sustenna syringe; the Ethicon surgical drainage products; two DePuy hip replacement implants sold by its DePuy Orthopaedics unit; insulin pump cartridges made by its Animas unit; 1-Day Acuvue TruEye contact lenses; and Simponi injection pens, to name just some.

As we’ve long been writing, <"">acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol and other over-the-counter drugs, as well as some prescription painkillers, can cause serious liver damage if too much is taken.

According to a recent Los Angeles Times report, acetaminophen overdose resulted in more than 40,000 calls to poison control centers in 2009. Acetaminophen overdose is also the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U.S. according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In many instances, these overdoses have fatal outcomes.

Of particular concern are accidental acetaminophen overdoses in children, said the Journal. As a matter-of-fact, the FDA previously met with a number of experts to try and find ways in which to reduce dosing errors of the powerful medication. As a result, specific instructions on dosing for children under the age of two is now on product labels, said the Journal.

Other proposals have not been accepted by Johnson & Johnson. For instance, limiting the variety of children’s liquid medication to ease dosing; Johnson & Johnson claims it can make amendments to its packaging, such as the flow restrictor, noted the Journal.

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