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Tylenol, Other OTC Drugs Recalled Over Musty Smell

Jan 15, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

A musty smell has prompted the recall of more Tylenol products, as well as other over-the-counter drugs including Rolaids, Motrin, Benedryl and St. Joseph Aspirin.

Last November, Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit recalled 5 lots of Tylenol Arthritis Pain Caplet 100 count bottles, with the distinctive red EZ-OPEN CA because of reports of the odor, which was associated with nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. That recall was expanded in December to include all lots of the product.

Since the December recall, the company said it has now applied broader criteria to identify and remove all product lots that may be affected, even if they have not been the subject of consumer complaints. McNeil also said it was ceasing shipment of products produced using materials shipped on the wood pallets and requiring suppliers to stop using the pallets.

The musty smell associated with the drugs is due to the  presence of trace amounts of a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromoanisole. The source of 2,4,6-tribromoanisole is believed to be the breakdown of a chemical used to treat wooden pallets that transport and store packaging materials. McNeil has not been able to determine how the chemical may have penetrated product packaging.  The health effects of this compound have not been well studied, but McNeil said that so far, to date all of the reported adverse reactions have been temporary and non-serious.

This latest recall involves lots in the Americas, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Fiji. A complete list of recalled products is available here, or call 1-888-222-6036 (Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time, and Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time).

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