State AGs Investigate McNeil Over Tylenol Contamination Issues. McNeil, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has reached a $33 million settlement with 42 states over allegations that the company distributed contaminated over-the-counter medications, including Tylenol. Officials launched an investigation after numerous drug products were recalled due to potential defects, including contamination. McNeil has also been sued over Tylenol drug injury claims.
The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in drug injury lawsuits. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a lawsuit.
The Pennsylvania and Texas Offices of Attorney General launched an investigation into drug defect concerns. Ten states, including New Jersey, formed an executive committee handing the issue, a press release from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office states.
“The products at issue in this case are well-known over-the-counter medications – pain relievers, decongestants, antacids and other remedies commonly found in people’s medicine cabinets,” Attorney General Christopher Porrino stated. “It’s essential that people who buy and consume these products be able to do so with confidence, and without fear that they may be tainted in some way, or manufactured in substandard facilities.”
The settlement resolves allegations that McNeil unlawfully promoted contaminated drug products. New Jersey will receive $1.04 million in the settlement and Pennsylvania will recover $1.4 million.
According to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s Office, McNeil recalled hundreds of millions of drug packages manufactured from 2009 through 2011. The company manufactures drugs at a plant in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. The drug products were recalled following complaints of defects; consumers reported odd smells and foreign particles in liquid medicine.
Drugs affected by the recall include Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, St. Joseph Aspirin, Sudafed, Pepcid, Mylanta, Rolaids, Zyrtec and Zyrtec Eye Drops. Some products are intended for children.
“We’re proud Pennsylvania helped lead this national effort to ensure health care companies are held accountable when they mislead consumers about the quality of the products they put into the marketplace,” Shapiro stated. “It’s particularly troubling that many of the drugs that were found to be contaminated in this case were designed for infants and children.”
The settlement prevents McNeil from engaging in “inappropriate advertising” and contains other consumer protections.
Tylenol Liver Damage Litigation
McNeil has also been involved in Tylenol litigation, with plaintiffs alleging that the medication caused liver damage. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) formed a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for lawsuits in 2013. MDLs are a type of mass tort used to make complex litigation more efficient. Tylenol liver damage lawsuits were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania before U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel.
McNeil settled the litigation in February 2017 for an undisclosed sum. According to court records, the settlement resolves over 200 lawsuits. Plaintiffs alleged that acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, caused liver damage. Some lawsuits are wrongful death claims, filed on behalf of individuals who suffered fatal liver damage.
Prior to the settlement, the MDL was slated for trial. The first case is a wrongful death claim filed on behalf of a woman whose sister died in 2010. The woman died of liver failure, allegedly due to Tylenol use.
In 2016, an issue of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Advanced Critical Care said that Tylenol was the most common cause of drug-induced liver injury. The report found that 46 percent of drug-induced liver failure cases were associated with Tylenol. The authors suspect that patients accidentally overdose on Tylenol because it is available over-the-counter, and therefore easy to obtain. Some consumers also may not realize that certain combination drug products already contain Tylenol.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called for drug makers to limit the strength of acetaminophen in prescription drug products in 2011. A boxed warning was also added “highlighting the potential for severe liver injury and a Warning highlighting the potential for allergic reactions (e.g., swelling of the face, mouth, and throat, difficulty breathing, itching, or rash) are being added to the label of all prescription drug products that contain acetaminophen.”