J&J's CEO: McNeil unit on track to talk about restart in Fort Washington

McNeil Consumer Healthcare of Fort Washington, PA. ( Charles Fox / Staff Photographer )
McNeil Consumer Healthcare of Fort Washington, PA. ( Charles Fox / Staff Photographer ) (INQ FOX)
Posted: June 21, 2013

Johnson & Johnson chief executive officer Alex Gorsky said Wednesday that the company's McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit was "on track" to talk with the Food and Drug Administration by year's end about resuming production at its troubled Fort Washington plant.

In a brief interview after speaking at the Wharton Leadership Conference at the University of Pennsylvania, Gorsky also said he wants to keep the consumer division of the health-care giant, which includes McNeil, despite some financial analysts' suggestion that it be divested.

"Absolutely," Gorsky said, when asked about keeping the consumer division, which has such brands as Band-Aids, Listerine and Tylenol. "The consumer part of Johnson & Johnson is a huge historical piece. I think the whole idea of consumerism in health care going forward is going to be an important component and will touch everything."

But in the company's revenue rankings, the consumer division is a distant third, behind pharmaceuticals and medical devices. J&J had $67.2 billion in revenue in 2012.

Though all three of its divisions have had such issues, dozens of recalls of consumer products - including those in the Tylenol and Motrin lines made in Fort Washington - have hurt the company's image and pushed it into the courts to answer lawsuits.

All production at the Fort Washington plant was halted in 2010 and will not resume until a federal judge in Philadelphia approves. That will not occur until after the FDA says J&J has complied with a consent decree. The consumer division also has recall issues in China.

"We submitted our plan, the FDA accepted it, and now, literally, what you have are requirements that they have to check off," Gorsky said, referring to Fort Washington. "We're meeting those, we're on track, and very hopeful that near the end of this year we'll be able to have the FDA review the entire package to get it back in operation."

J&J says it is spending $100 million on the repairs.


Contact David Sell at 215-854-4506, dsell@phillynews.com, or @phillypharma. Read his blog at www.inquirer.com/phillypharma.

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