A.G. Schneiderman Announces $33 Million Multi-State Settlement With Johnson & Johnson To End Deceptive Marketing Practices Concerning The Quality Of Over-The-Counter Drugs

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

May 24, 2017

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Agreement With 42 States And D.C. Requires Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary To Reform Marketing Practices

New York State To Receive $1.3 Million

A.G. Schneiderman: My Office Is Holding Drug Manufacturers Accountable For The Health And Wellbeing Of New York Consumers

NEW YORK—Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that 42 states and the District of Columbia have reached a $33 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., resolving allegations that the company’s subsidiary, McNeil-PPC, Inc., employed deceptive practices to market and promote numerous popular over-the-counter (“OTC”) drugs. In addition to reforming these practices, the corporation has agreed to pay New York State a total of $1.3 million.

Between 2009 and 2011, McNeil-PPC, Inc.—then a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson—manufactured and distributed OTC drugs that purported to comply with federally mandated current Good Manufacturing Practices (“cGMP”). However, an investigation conducted by the FDA and Attorneys General across the country revealed that a number of McNeil manufacturing facilities and the medications they produced did not meet the national cGMP standards.

The investigation’s findings resulted in the recall of several adulterated McNeil drugs that were initially introduced to the market in batches. The recalled medication included Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, St. Joseph Aspirin, Sudafed, Pepcid, Mylanta, Rolaids, Zyrtec, and Zyrtec Eye Drops—several of which are indicated for pediatric use.   

“This is common sense: over-the-counter drugs, especially those used to treat children, must be manufactured in accordance with federally mandated standards,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Drug companies that use deceptive practices threaten New Yorkers' health and wellbeing - and we won't hesitate to hold them accountable."

In a complaint filed today in New York County Supreme Court, Attorney General Schneiderman alleges that Defendants, acting through McNeil, violated state consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the cGMP compliance and the quality of their OTC drugs, as well as falsely reporting that these OTC drugs had sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, quantities, or qualities that they did not possess.

In addition to the monetary penalties, the consent judgment requires McNeil to reform its marketing and promotional practices. Under the terms of the agreement, McNeil must not:

  • Advertise on its websites that McNeil’s OTC drug product facilities meet cGMP if the drug has had a Class I or Class II recall within the previous 12 months. Class I recalls involve a reasonable probability that use or exposure to the drug may result in serious detrimental health consequences or death. Class II recalls involve potential temporary or reversible health consequences or where potential adverse health consequences are unlikely.
  • Fail to follow internal operating procedures regarding whether to take corrective or preventive action for OTC drugs during the manufacture of an OTC drug; and
  • Fail to identify or provide information to participating Attorneys General within 60 days of a written request about vendors or warehouses in which recalled OTC drugs were distributed in their state. 

The following states participated in the settlement: 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 Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

This case was handled by Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection Chief Jane M. Azia, Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and Assistant Attorney General Benjamin J. Lee, under the supervision of the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Manisha M. Sheth.