J&J says no shakeup at McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit

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J&J named Roberto Marques to serve as the company group chairman responsible for the recall-plagued McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit, but pushed back hard against a Wall Street Journal article suggesting that the promotion was part of a corporate shakeup of the division.

Marques, who was already company group chairman for consumer, North America, assumes additional responsibilities from Patrick Mutchler, who is retiring “after 35 years of exemplary service,” said J&J VP, public affairs and communication Raymond Jordan in an open letter to the paper. Marques will take on oversight of J&J's OTC, nutritionals and wellness and prevention businesses.

The Journal, said Jordan, “inaccurately connected the departure of another senior executive, Pericles Stamatiades, to Mr. Muchler's retirement even though he had no direct responsibility for the McNeil business.” Stamatiades was company group chairman, global franchise organization. Jordan noted, as The Journal did, that day to day operations at McNeil Consumer Healthcare continue to be led by President Denice Torres, who has served in that role since April.

"The US OTC business will continue to be operated as a separate, integrated business in order to maintain its focus on quality and compliance, and on the successful reintroduction of OTC medicines in the US market," the company said in a statement.

The Journal quoted a “former J&J official” as suggesting that J&J Vice Chairman Sheri McCoy “encouraged the two officials to leave ‘to bring in some fresh thinking and direction.'”

In reporting fourth-quarter and year-end results last week, the company said worldwide consumer sales were up 2% to nearly $15 billion despite a 6.7% slide in US sales.

"Sales in U.S. over-the-counter medicines were significantly impacted by the suspension of manufacturing at the McNeil Consumer Healthcare facility in Fort Washington, Pa., as well as the impact on production volumes related to ongoing efforts to enhance quality and manufacturing systems," said the company.
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