Plant Mix-Up Causes Recall of Painkillers

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis warned yesterday that over-the-counter medications might have gotten mixed up with strong painkillers.

Novartis voluntarily recalled 1,645 lots of drugs including Excedrin, Bufferin, No-Doz and Gas-X.  The plant in Lincoln, Nebraska has been shut down since these drugs may have accidentally been comingled and packaged with powerful prescription painkillers. The opioid drugs are sold by Endo Pharmaceuticals as Percocet, Endocet, Opana and Zydone.

A spokeswoman for Novartis said late Monday that only Gas-X is produced on the same manufacturing line as the opioid drugs. In any case, the investigation is ongoing. FDA inspectors uncovered a manufacturing problem during an inspection in which pills may become stuck in the machinery causing them to carry over to the packaging of other products. What a headache!

It is recommended by the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies that patients examine their prescriptions to make sure that all the pills are the same size, color, shape, with same markings. If any pills appear different, patients should return the medicine to their pharmacist.

Novartis announced Sunday that it will recall bottles of Excedrin and caffeine caplets No-Doz that have expiration dates of December 20, 2014, as well as some packages of Bufferin and Gas-X with expiration dates of December 20, 2013, or earlier.

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