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Congressman Sets Stage For Johnson & Johnson Showdown

Democrat Rep. Edolphus Towns of New York isn't done yet in his quest to get Johnson & Johnson CEO Bill Weldon to answer questions about the company's recalls of over-the-counter medicines.

Towns, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has called a hearing for the end of this month and wants Weldon, who couldn't make a previous session in late May because of back surgery, to come. Here's the invite.

A Johnson & Johnson spokesman told Shots in an e-mail that Weldon will be there. Colleen Goggins, who runs J&J's consumer business and previously testified before Towns' panel, was also invited. The spokesman said "her participation is still being determined."

At issue is the company's handling of quality problems with children's medicines, including liquid Tylenol and Benadryl, and what's become known as a "phantom recall" of adult-strength Motrin. A contractor hired by J&J allegedly bought up batches of Motrin that wasn't dissolving the way it was supposed to.

The invitation sent to Weldon includes copies of company e-mails that led Towns to ask if the company had thought about doing "a phantom recall of children's medicine?"

He also asks whether the company was aware of problems with Children's Tylenol back in June 2009, as some of the e-mails appear to suggest. That would have been 10 months before a publicly announced recall of the product and other medicines for kids.

The company spokesman declined to comment on the e-mails.

Update: Late Thursday afternoon J&J said Goggins, 56, would retire from the company in early 2011. Weldon, 61, is also expected to step down late next year. At one time Goggins had been seen as one of the leading candidates to take over for Weldon.

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