J&J Adds Eprex Anemia Drug to Recall Tally

Johnson & Johnson (NYS: JNJ) has announced its latest recall. This time, the recall involves about 200,000 syringes of its Eprex anemia drug, since some batches may not be as potent as they should be. The recall affects batches distributed in 17 countries, but the company believes most of the syringes have already been used, and only about 6,300 remain on the market. No adverse events have been reported, J&J said.

The Eprex incident follows a slew of consumer-drug recalls--the most recent one in August -- which involved almost 2.5 million packages of a Tylenol Cold product. The company has also pulled other branded prescription drugs, including bottles of its epilepsy drug Topamax, its atypical antipsychotic Risperdal, and its HIV treatment Prezista -- as well as leaky insulin cartridges and potentially unsterile drug sutures. Its DePuy division's recall of faulty hip-replacement devices has touched off thousands of patient lawsuits; J&J has set aside at least $922 million to cover litigation costs.

Last year's recalls cost J&J about $900 million in sales, and analysts say this year's hit could top $1 billion. The company is continuing to overhaul its quality control and manufacturing processes, and it's slowly getting some long-absent consumer drugs back to market. But the company has some ground to make up with consumers to mend its now-tattered reputation for high-quality products, as CEO William Weldon has acknowledged.

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