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Novartis Initiates Recall Of Otc Drugs Over Damaged, Mixed Up Pills

January 9, 2012

Novartis Initiates Recall of OTC Drugs over Damaged, Mixed Up Pills

Swiss drug maker Novartis recalled some bottles of Excedrin, NoDoz, Bufferin, and Gas-X this weekend over the risk these medicines may “contain stray tablets, capsules, or caplets from other Novartis products, or contain broken or chipped tablets,” the Food and Drug Administration reports.

This recall comes on the heels of the manufacturer’s announcement that operations at its Lincoln, Nebraska plant would be suspended due to “maintenance and other improvement activities,” the health safety news source reports. This company’s safety concerns mirror the series of violations and ethics charges that have affected Johnson & Johnson’s reputation over the last several years.

Since 2008, Johnson & Johnson has endured harsh criticism over unsafe manufacturing of some of its best-selling pain relievers, including Tylenol. The company even saw the shutdown of its manufacturing plants in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania and Las Piedras, Puerto Rico over such safety concerns as signs of contamination in their facilities and the presence of wood chips, metal particles, and a musty smell in some products.

Just last month, the major healthcare company initiated another voluntary recall, this time for millions of bottles of Motrin IB. This recall from McNeil, a division of Johnson & Johnson, addressed the capsule’s delayed dissolve rate.  According to the company, this delay slows relief for consumers.

Despite the continuing string of safety concerns and costly interruptions in manufacturing to strike Johnson & Johnson, the most detrimental outcome of these recalls may be the loss of consumer confidence in their products and image. Despite record profits in 2010, the company may face a significant hit to their consumer base, particularly as scrutiny of their products increases and regular safety concerns continue to keep their brand name in the news.

Novartis faces a similar dilemma in the wake of this latest medication safety recall. With the vast amount of unfavorable publicity Johnson & Johnson garnered, Novartis may face similar public backlash over their product safety concerns and manufacturing plant issues. 

However, Novartis voluntarily initiated this medication recall, which may help to staunch further investigation into their operations. In 2008, Johnson & Johnson came under heavy fire from the Food and Drug Administration for failing to notify the consumer safety department of a “phantom recall” it initiated over its defective Motrin tablets. In that initial violation, the company hired contractors to secretly buy back defective batches of this medication from stores in an effort to prevent notifying the public of these safety issues.

Novartis said an internal review exposed the damaged and mixed up pills and it is working with the FDA throughout the entire process. Although no reports of injuries have been reported from consumers, the company explained that its early actions are intended to prevent any allergic reaction or other side effects that could result if consumers take mislabeled medication. 

The company reports that affected medications include some bottles of the headache medicine Excedrin and the caffeine capsule NoDoz with expiration dates of December 20, 2014 or before. Also included in this voluntary safety recall are some batches of the pain medication Bufferin and stomach medication Gas-X. Both of these affected products have expiration dates of December 20, 2013 or earlier.

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