Corporate Cutbacks Compromise Safety

In another example of large corporations making cutbacks without due regard for adequate levels of safety, a subsidiary of pharmaceuticals giant Johnson & Johnson is being thoroughly investigated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a Pennsylvania drug plant plagued by quality-control problems that prompted a recent nationwide recall of children’s Tylenol and dozens of other pediatric medications, appears to have drastically reduced its workforce in recent years. The FDA released an inspection report from early 2010, finding McNeil failed to properly train contract and temporary employees working at their plant, as well as other violations.

Besides the recall of children’s Tylenol, more than 40 other pediatric products were recalled, including Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl. Congress is now looking into the performance levels of both Johnson & Johnson, as well as McNeil. It has been reported that the recent recall may rank as the largest recall of pediatric medicines in U.S. history. Other deficiencies cited included bacterial contamination of raw materials, improper equipment, maintenance, and failure to investigate numerous consumer complaints regarding foreign materials in the products. It appears the Pennsylvania plant cut 478 jobs from the end of 2005 and 2009.

In our 59 years in practice, our firm has seen a pattern of economic downturn, followed by a decreased emphasis and safety and training, and then followed by catastrophic events, deadly occurrences, and widespread product recalls. We call on the corporations of America to re-examine and read commit to their training programs, their corporate safety departments, and their focus on quality control as our nation exits this economic recession. If not, more lives will be needlessly lost — all too often to benefit the corporate bottom line.