Potential Drug-Packaging Problem

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has notified the public that a packaging problem may have occurred with eight narcotic-type drugs (such as Opana®, Percocet®, and Endocet®), where a stray pill may have gone into another’s packaging. No problems have been reported from this potential mix-up. According to the FDA, these drugs were manufactured and packaged for Endo Pharmaceuticals by Novartis Consumer Health at its Lincoln, Nebraska manufacturing site.

Please see the FDA’s warning for more information. The FDA notes that “The likelihood of this occurring in medication dispensed to patients is estimated to be low.”

A similar mix-up may have occurred with four brands of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs manufactured at the same plant. These include certain bottles of Bufferin®, Excedrin®, Gas-X® Prevention®, and NoDoz®. Some packaging of one product may potentially contain a stray or broken pill, capsule, or caplet of another product. While no problems have been reported, Novartis Consumer Health is issuing a voluntary recall of certain-sized bottles of these OTC medications, with specific expiration dates. For a full list of recalled products and instructions for how to return a product to Novartis Consumer Health, please see their recall notice. Anyone with questions may contact the Novartis Consumer Relationship Center at (888) 477-2403 (available Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 10 pm Eastern Time).

MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jack Burks explains, “This should remind all of us to look at your prescription or over-the-counter medications when you receive them. You should always check to see if they are the same color, shape, size, etc. of previous prescriptions or purchases for the same drug. With over-the-counter medications, you should always ensure that all protective packaging is in place.

Please note that generic versions of prescription drugs are made by different manufacturers, so you may see a set of pills with a different appearance from time to time. A physical description of the pill, capsule, or caplet may be found on the label of the prescription bottle, so any time that a new prescription is received – or a pill appears different from previous times – you should check the pill description on the label. Some people also count the number of pills to make certain the count is correct. If you discover a shortage, pills cut in half, or other strange appearance, you should take the medication back to the pharmacist for an explanation.”