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The Associated Press March 2, 2011, 5:24PM ET

J&J recalls surgical stitches in the UK

Health care giant Johnson & Johnson has recalled several lots of surgical sutures in the United Kingdom because of a risk they are unsterile.

The recall began in late-December but U.K. regulators posted a notice about the action online on Wednesday. The sutures are marketed under the brand names: Ethilon, Ethibond, Mersilene and Mersilk. The polyester devices are used to close surgical incisions and wounds.

Some of the products may not have been sealed properly, posing a risk that they could become infected, according to the online notice.

J&J said in a separate statement that the problem was caused by "modifications of manufacturing equipment" that have since been corrected.

New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J has seen its reputation battled by a string of recalls ranging from over-the-counter medicines like Children's Tylenol and Benadryl to contact lenses and hip replacements. The company has issued 20 recalls since September 2009.

In the last quarter the company reported a 12 percent drop in profit, as sales were squeezed by a weak economy, pricing pressures and recalls that have kept many popular nonprescription medicines off store shelves. Sales of the company's over-the-counter medicines fell more than 19 percent for the full year.

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