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Johnson & Johnson CEO maps quality shake up

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Johnson & Johnson is restructuring its manufacturing hierarchy and creating a new position to ensure quality products, the company's chief executive said Wednesday.

The move was spurred by multiple massive recalls by Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ, Fortune 500) McNeil division, the maker of Tylenol. McNeil, along with other manufacturing units, will now report directly to Johnson & Johnson's chief executive, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Although a small part of Johnson & Johnson, McNeil's quality woes have damaged its parent company's reputation. The Food and Drug Administration has slammed conditions at McNeil, and Johnson & Johnson received a grand jury subpoena last month about the recalls.

CEO William Weldon told the Wall Street Journal the move is part of a companywide plan to help ensure quality products across the company.

The plan includes the appointment of chief quality officers for each of the three major business segments, the company told CNNMoney.com. Those officers will report to corporate vice president Ajit Shetty, who will report to Weldon.

Johnson &Johnson will make changes to its now-shuttered plant in Fort Washington, Pa., and will also spend more money on upgrading other plants.

Weldon told the Journal the Fort Washington plant will reopen in the the second half of 2011.

"The people who use our products are our first priority, and we've let them down," Weldon told the Journal.

Weldon said he recognized customers' ire over the recalls and that he "vowed to regain their trust."

Five recalls: Last month marked the fifth recall in nine months for McNeil.

In November 2009, the company recalled five lots of its Tylenol Arthritis Pain 100 count with the EZ-open cap product due to reports of an unusual moldy odor that led to some cases of nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

In December 2009, McNeil expanded that recall to include all available product lots of Tylenol Arthritis Pain caplet 100 count bottles with the red EZ-open cap.

During the January recall, McNeil recalled an undisclosed number of containers of Tylenol, Motrin and other over-the-counter drugs after consumers complained of feeling sick from an "unusual" odor.

In May, McNeil said it was taking "corrective actions" at its U.S. plant after 40 children's drugs were recalled in late April for quality concerns, saying that some of the products could have problems with their ingredients while others could contain "tiny particles."

In July, the company said it was expanding its Jan. 15 recall to 21 more lots of of over-the-counter drugs. To top of page

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