Johnson & Johnson has been sued by the US State of Oregon following claims it secretly recalled defective painkiller Motrin, putting consumers at risk.

Attorney general John Kroger claimed Johnson & Johnson acted in order to avoid negative publicity by covertly purchasing supplies of the product directly from retailers instead of initiating a publicly open recall.

Johnson & Johnson recalled the medication because of contamination and inaccurate labelling. The move was uncovered following a government investigation into suspended operations of children’s Tylenol at the company’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit in Pennsylvania, US.

“Companies that break the rules and put consumers at risk will be held accountable,” Kroger said in a statement.

The case seeks restitution for all Oregon purchases of the drug on top of damages.