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J&J Shifts Management in Consumer Unit Hit by Recalls

Johnson & Johnson, the world’s second biggest health-care company, announced its second round of leadership changes in less than a year in a unit that’s recalled dozens of brands of consumer medicines.

Patrick Mutchler, named in April as company group chairman for over-the-counter products, will retire, to be replaced by Roberto Marques, the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based drugmaker said in an e-mail today. Pericles Stamatiades, chief strategist for the consumer business, is also leaving after 28 years at J&J, and his duties will be reassigned, the company said.

The Mutchler and Stamatiades appointments followed two years in which J&J recalled hundreds of millions of packets of Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl and other products due to foul odors, adulterated ingredients and bad labeling. While the company resumed some sales last year, a shuttered plant in Pennsylvania isn’t expected to reopen until next year, Chief Executive Officer William C. Weldon said on a Jan. 24 call.

The over-the-counter 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 U.S. market,” Bonnie Jacobs, a spokeswoman for J&J’s McNeil consumer unit, said in an e-mail. Denice Torres will continue to run day-to-day operations for the U.S. business, she said.

Consumer Dismissals

J&J’s consumer division, which includes McNeil, is dismissing an unspecified number of workers, the company said in a separate e-mailed statement. “These changes will help us better serve consumers’ needs and remain competitive in the face of ongoing global economic challenges,” J&J said.

Jacobs declined to say how many positions were cut. The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the management changes yesterday, said about 100 employees were dismissed.

J&J rose less than one percent to $65.91 at 4:04 p.m. in New York trading. The shares have gained 10.3 percent in the past 12 months. Pfizer Inc., based in New York, is the biggest seller of medical products.

Johnson & Johnson had $4.4 billion in over-the-counter sales last year, a drop of more than 25 percent since 2008, the year before the bulk of the recalls began. Jacobs declined to say why the leadership changes were being made now. Mutchler is leaving after 35 years at J&J, the company said.

“After a career of building successful businesses, it was Pat we turned to when we needed an experienced hand to strengthen McNeil, and again he has delivered,” said Jesse Wu, the company’s worldwide consumer group chairman, in a statement. Stamatiades is “a visionary whose legacy will continue to deliver growth to our business for years to come,” he said.

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