FDA Warns of Possible Narcotics in OTC Meds

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In a press release from January 8th, the Food and Drug Administration announced the recall of several brands of over the counter medications. These are manufactured by Norvartis and include Bufferin, Excedrin, Gas-X and NoDoz. The cited reason is a possible mix-up in the plant that manufactures and packages the products.

There’s also a concern that some prescription medications, including narcotic pain relievers, may have ended up in OTC bottles. This is because the narcotics (including Percocet) are manufactured at the same facility.

The original recall came because customers who purchased OTC products noticed chipped tablets or unexpected dosage forms in some bottles. No reports of harm are listed and consumers who have the listed products are encouraged to return them to the point of purchase for a refund.

An AP report about the incident quotes an FDA official, “The likelihood of finding a wrong tablet in an opiate pain medication dispensed to patients is low and patients should not be unduly alarmed.”

They also reiterate a standard bit of useful advice: If you ever receive medication that doesn’t appear correct, or if it’s damaged, or if there are different types of pills in the same bottle – ask your pharmacist for advice before you take any of the medication. Each tablet type sold will have a different product identification – this may be a color, shape or code number imprinted on the tablet.

While we’d like our manufacturers to be mistake free, this is a good example of the system working as it is supposed to. Errors will happen. The test is how any harm is then mitigated by prompt and thorough action on both the part of the manufacturer and the government regulators. Incumbent in this process is quick communication and verification of the desired result.

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