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Johnson & Johnson ordered an enormous recall the week of January 15th, 2010 of over the counter drugs including Tylenol, Motrin, and St. Joseph’s aspirin due to a moldy smell that was making people sick.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company first learned of the problem in 2008 and was slow to respond to complaints and inform the Food and Drug Administration of the issue. Federal regulators have criticized the company over the way they handled the issue.
So far, about 70 people have become sick due to the odor, with symptoms including nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
The company says the smell is due to trace amounts of a chemical used in the treatment of wood pallets. Apparently, the chemical can leach into the air. The FDA was able to trace the products that were making people sick back to a facility in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico.
Johnson & Johnson said it is investigating the issue and will stop shipping products on wooden pallets that have been treated with that chemical. The company has asked its suppliers to do the same.
The FDA sent the company a warning letter for violating manufacturing standards and not responding to the situation in a timely way.
The company says there have been no additional reports of nausea since the first recall. They claim that the second recall that took place recently was just a precautionary measure because any products shipped on the wooden crates could potentially contain the smell.
If your over the counter medication has a questionable moldy smell, it may be best to throw it away and buy a new one. You can view a full list of the recalled batches at http://www.mcneilproductrecall.com.
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