Congress Probes New Recall Tied To J & J Plant

Congressional committee is asking questions about a recall of PediaCare children's medicines linked to Johnson & Johnson...

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- A Congressional committee has started asking questions about a recall of PediaCare children\'s medicines linked to a Johnson & Johnson plant plagued by manufacturing problems.

Blacksmith Brands Inc. recalled four PediaCare cold and allergy products last week because they were made at a Fort Washington, Pa., facility where the Food and Drug Administration found a slew of violations.

In April, J&J\'s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit recalled more than 130 million bottles of children\'s medicine, some of which contained tiny particles of metal. The recall encompassed more than 40 varieties of children\'s medicines and included children\'s versions of Tylenol, Benadryl, Motrin and other products that make up nearly 70 percent of the market for pediatric medications.

McNeil also made the over-the-counter medications PediaCare Multi-Symptom Cold, PediaCare Long Acting Cough, PediaCare Decongestant and PediaCare Allergy and Cold for Blacksmith at that plant.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Blacksmith Wednesday asking for all records tied to its recall and communications with J&J, McNeil and the FDA.

"We cannot take any recalls at this plant lightly," committee Chairman Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., said in a statement.

Blacksmith spokesman Gene Grabowski said Blacksmith, which is based in Tarrytown, N.Y., will cooperate fully and respond quickly to the Congressional committee request.

"This is pretty much standard," he said.

Grabowski said there have been no reports of problems with the PediaCare products, which were recalled as a precaution because they were made at the Pennsylvania plant. The company is shifting production to new locations in California and Canada and will be shipping from those sites by mid-July.

Congressional Democrats also are investigating an alleged "phantom recall" by Johnson & Johnson, in which the New Brunswick, N.J., company hired a contractor to buy up defective Motrin tablets instead of issuing an immediate recall.

That came to light last week during a hearing on quality issues with J&J medications. Investigators have said J&J hired a private company to buy the defective packets in 2008 before recalling the pills months later.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday the House committee has asked merchandising consultant WIS International for information as part of this probe.

A spokeswoman for the committee said it has "reached out informally" to the company but has yet to receive a response.

WIS International lists offices in San Diego and Mississauga, Ontario, on its website. A representative at its Canadian office declined to comment.

McNeil spokeswoman Bonnie Jacobs also would not comment.

J&J shares rose 3 cents to $59.76 in Thursday midday trading.