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$453K Drug Company Settlement Goes To State Fund, Not Consumers

$453K Drug Company Settlement Goes To State Fund, Not Consumers

Money Will Go Into State's Consumer Settlement Fund

New Mexico will get $453,000 from a nationwide settlement with the Johnson & Johnson company over its representations of the quality of over-the-counter drugs, but none of it will go directly to consumers in the state.

The money is part of a $33 million settlement national settlement with Johnson & Johnson by 43 attorneys general across the nation.

The settlement, announced Wednesday by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, resolves allegations that Johnson & Johnson and its related firms unlawfully promoted OTC drugs as complying with federally mandated current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) even though the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) found that some of the company’s manufacturing facilities did not comply with cGMPs between 2009 and 2011.

Drugs involved include Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, St. Joseph Aspirin, Sudafed, Pepcid, Mylanta, Rolaids, Zyrtec and Zyrtec Eye Drops, Balderas’ office said.

So where will New Mexico’s $453,000 go? Into the state’s Consumer Settlement Fund, which helps fund other consumer protection lawsuits, said AG spokesperson James Hallinan. The fund is also used for consumer education efforts, for consumer advocates and mediation services between consumers and businesses, Hallinan said. That fund is expected to end this current fiscal year with a $2.4 million balance.

Balderas hailed the settlement.

“All New Mexicans deserve access to quality, affordable health care, and that includes the over-the-counter medications our children and families rely on every day for their health,” Balderas said. “I will hold corporations who put profits over patients accountable, and I am pleased that we secured over $450,000 for New Mexico taxpayers in this time of financial crisis.”

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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