Johnson & Johnson's product quality has been cast into the spotlight again as a batch of the company's disposable contact lenses in several countries and regions, including Hong Kong and Macao, have been recalled after users in Japan complained of eye irritation or discomfort.
The voluntary recall was initiated Thursday Australia, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macao, after a "limited number" of 1-Day Acuvue TruEye, that J&J manufactured in Ireland, were reported in Japan last month to cause "unusual stinging or pain upon insertion," which included redness and irritation.
About 4,000 boxes of the contact lenses are being recalled while an investigation conducted by the company has confirmed that "an isolated issue in one portion of the lens-rinsing process on a particular manufacturing line affected a limited number of lots."
There have been no reported adverse events so far arising from the use of the affected batches in Hong Kong and Macao, and according to the company's official statement the affected users in Hong Kong only account for 2 percent of the total users.
The shipment of the affected lots has been suspended. Users can check the problematic lot numbers of the contact lenses on the company's website and ask for a replacement from today until September 22, if they are affected by the lots of products in question.
An optical shop owner surnamed Chow in Junk Bay of Hong Kong told the Global Times that after J&J's announcement of recalling the 1-Day Acuvue TruEye, customers rushed to his shop asking for refunds or replacements, even though most of them didn't feel any discomfort in using the contact lens.
No other products under the brand were involved in the recall, and other lots of 1-Day Acuvue TruEye that are not on the affected list are still being sold in the market, J&J's customer service in Hong Kong told the Global Times Sunday.
None of the recalled products are distributed in the mainland market, Yu Guoxiong, the public relations spokesman of J&J for the Chinese mainland told the Global Times Sunday, adding that there hadn't been any negative feedback or requests for recalls received on the Chinese mainland related to any of the company's one-day disposable contact lenses.
Public relations crisis
Since November, Johnson & Johnson's has implemented five massive recalls of over-the-counter children's and infants' medicine due to reports of an unusual moldy odor that led to some cases of nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea, according to a report by CNNMoney.com.
In order to retain the company's reputation, CEO of J&J, William Weldon, announced Wednesday the restructure of the firm's manufacturing hierarchy and create a new position called chief quality officer to ensure the quality of its products across the company.
"It's the right thing to do to firstly confess the faults and recall the problematic products and then fix the systematic holes internally," said Guo Huimin, deputy dean with the University of International Relations, who specializes in public relations and marketing, adding that it's the secret to why some international companies still win the customers' trust despite waves of high-profile scandals.
Negative news, travels so fast that it leaves enterprises no time to think about how to cover the dirt, said Guo, warning that some Chinese domestic companies should learn lessons from their foreign counterparts.
There has been a string of quality scandals involving Chinese domestic companies in which some companies either attempted to cover up or seek revenge on those who exposed the scandals.
Last month, a sales manager from BaWang International tussled with journalists of the National Business Daily at the newspaper's office following a report by the paper on a government investigation into the company's shampoo that was suspected of containing toxic chemicals.
"Enterprises on the Chinese mainland have a long way to go in building and maintaining their brands," Guo said. "Maintaining the quality of the products is a key factor to dispel safety and quality concerns and establish a good reputation for the brands."
By Zhu Shanshan