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Tylenol maker expects shortages through 2010

By Parija Kavilanz, senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The drug-making arm of Johnson & Johnson said Thursday night it expects delays in replenishing the supply of children's medicines made at a plant it shut in May.

The Johnson & Johnson division, McNeil, closed its plant in Fort Washington, Pa., where it makes several varieties of children's and infant's Tylenol, Motrin and other drugs after a scathing inspection report by the Food and Drug Administration.

McNeil said it would not have "sources of supply before the end of 2010 for most of the products" made at the Fort Washington plant. Even with needed supplies, the plant isn't expected re-open in the near future, according to a person familiar with the FDA investigation.

On April 30, McNeil recalled about 135 million bottles of children's and infant's Motrin, Tylenol, Benadryl and Zyrtec drugs, saying that some of these products did not meet "quality standards."

Those products were removed from stores nationwide and are not available for purchase. The Fort Washington plant is McNeil's only facility that makes all of its children's drugs. It also makes some adult drugs, but McNeil has not disclosed which ones.

McNeil has issued five recalls of its cold and pain relief products over the past eight months, including those made at other facilities, and already retailers are reporting shortages.

On June 16, CNNMoney reported supply problems of adult versions of Tylenol, Motrin and other drugs at CVS, Duane Reade, Target and Walgreens. Those shortages were tied to recalls prior the most recent one in April.

In a press release, McNeil said the majority of its over-the-counter drug business would not be affected by the Fort Washington suspension. Representatives from McNeil declined to elaborate for this story.  To top of page

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