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Johnson & Johnson Recalls Contact Lenses

December 2, 2010

Johnson & Johnson confirmed Wednesday that it had recalled nearly half a million boxes of contact lenses, five times more than the actual number it had announced in August due to eyes stinging.

The recall consists of Johnson & Johnson’s 1 Day Acuvue TruEye lenses. The company originally said 100,000 boxes would be recalled back in August, but was expanded to a total of 492,000 boxes, and included mainly products in Japan.

The New Jersey-based healthcare giant, which has been striving for greater transparency in the wake of a series of over-the-counter medicine recalls, said it announced the expanded recall by press release only in Japan, where nearly 75 percent of the affected product was sold.

J&J is already facing criminal and congressional scrutiny in the United States over the series of massive recalls of Children’s Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, and others due to lapses in quality control and other issues.

The recall on contact lenses does not affect products sold in the United States.

The expanded product recall was made public Wednesday after details of the recall were posted on a UK healthcare regulatory agency website. Healthcare officials in all countries with affected lots were notified of the expanded recall in late October, Gregory Esterow, a spokesman for J&J’s Vistakon vision care unit, told Reuters.

Some 25 European Union countries were involved in the limited voluntary recall, including the UK, Sweden, Italy, Ireland and Germany. Acuvue lenses were also recalled in Canada, Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore, the company said.

J&J told Reuters that the affected lot of contact lens recalls represents less than 1 percent of all contact lenses made by the company worldwide.

The voluntary recalls came after consumer complaints of burning, stinging or pain upon inserting the lenses into the eyes surfaced.

A product review revealed higher-than-expected levels of a type of acid used in manufacturing the lenses that had not been fully removed during the lens rinsing process. Esterow said the company also found a small percentage of lenses that did not meet internal manufacturing requirements.

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