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Congressman names third party in J&J Rolaids recall

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A ranking member of the U.S. congressional committee that has been investigating Johnson & Johnson's series of recalls of consumer products on Friday identified the previously unnamed third party manufacturer behind last week's Rolaids recall.

Congressman Darrell Issa of California, in a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, said investigations by his staff revealed North Carolina-based Best Sweet as the company contracted by J&J to produce widely used Rolaids antacid products.

Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in the letter questions the FDA's relationship with J&J's McNeil consumer products unit.

It asks if the agency was informed that Best Sweet was the third party manufacturer of Rolaids and whether the FDA is doing enough to assure McNeil's compliance with current good manufacturing practices (GMP) standards.

"Since Best Sweet's GMP facility produces more than 4 billion products each year, I am concerned about the FDA's knowledge of Best Sweet's contractual relationship with Johnson & Johnson in manufacturing Rolaids and whether or not the FDA is acting appropriately to determine if there are other similar public safety concerns about products manufactured by Best Sweet," Issa said in his letter to Dr. Hamburg.

Best Sweet manufactures pharmaceuticals, consumer healthcare products, candy and food products, Issa said.

J&J last week recalled all batches of Softchews Rolaids after consumers reported finding wood and metal bits in the tablets. J&J, which recalled some 130 lots of the product, said at the time that problems were uncovered with a third party manufacturer but did not publicly name it.

The Issa letter asks the FDA to provide answers to a series of questions no later than January 5, including whether J&J identified Best Sweet as the third party manufacturer to the

FDA.

The congressman also asked the FDA to provide any dates and reasons for inspections of Best Sweet as well as copies of inspection reports or warning letters issued by the FDA to the manufacturer.

(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Richard Chang)

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