IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Beleaguered wipe-maker hires new COO; prepares to reopen

A Wisconsin firm shut down after making and distributing contaminated alcohol wipes and other medical products blamed for infections and deaths has hired a new chief operating officer as officials work to reopen the company.

H&P Industries of Hartland, Wis., has hired Eamonn Vize, a former Abbott Laboratories Inc. executive with 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, officials said in a press release Tuesday.

The company has been shuttered since June, when federal officials, at the urging of the Food and Drug Administration, issued a permanent injunction barring the firm from making or distributing products until it could prove quality control standards were in place to prevent microbial contamination.

Vize would appear to replace the company's former chief operating officer, David Haertle, one of three siblings who run the firm and its sister company, the Triad Group Inc. Eric Haertle, the company's president, praised the new hire.

"Eamonn's experience in dealing with the FDA while at Abbott and his strong operational skills will provide tremendous value to our company as we continue our road to recovery," Eric Haertle said in the release.

The move comes a week after H&P Industries issued its latest recall of povidone iodine products, including swabs, scrubs, gels and solutions used to prevent infections during medical procedures. The company issued the recall at the urging of the FDA, which released a safety alert saying that the products had been produced without systems in place to prevent objectionable microorganisms.

That recall followed a global recall of widely used alcohol prep products and another recall of povidone iodine products earlier this year because of bacterial contamination.

At least eight lawsuits nationwide claim that products contaminated with Bacillus cereus, a rare bacterium, led to infections and death. The first suit was filed by the family of a 2-year-old Houston boy whose parents blame the wipes for their child's deadly bacterial meningitis infection caused by Bacillus cereus.

H&P officials have posted a $4 million penal bond and delivered a so-called "reconditioning plan" detailing how they hope to restart the 30-year-old family business.

H&P officials declined an request to interview Vize or other company leaders and referred questions about possible reopening to the FDA. FDA officials have said that H&P Industries is complying with terms of a consent decree, but declined to speculate about a possible date when the firm could reopen.