Monday, January 18, 2010

Buyer Beware Continues

When Tylenol drags its feet on product quality concerns for 20 months, America is in trouble. The brand once pulled all product from the shelves due to cyanide poisoning. The cyanide came from product tampering.

The current recall comes from product odor and stomach pains. NYT reported:

Deborah M. Autor, the director of the Office of Compliance at the F.D.A.’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said on a conference call with journalists on Friday that the company should have acted faster.

“When something smells bad literally or figuratively,” Ms. Autor said, “companies must aggressively investigate and take all necessary actions to solve the problem.”

Funny, last fall I complained about a strong smell and stomach pains from taking OTC ibuprofen. The company said it would send a refund and a package so the product could be shipped back for testing. I received the refund, but not the package. Perrigo wrote later saying:

Product taste and odor are attributes of the product which are subjective to consumers.

While true, their product is the only one where I experienced an overwhelming smell and abdominal pains after ingesting. Other ibuprofen products I've purchased over the years did not do that. Their letter went on to say:

Given the complaint history, no product quality issue is identified, no further evaluation is required.

Does being the first to complain mean one isn't treated seriously? Maybe so.

The FDA said:

J & J did not conduct a timely, comprehensive investigation, did not quickly identify the source of the problem, and did not notify authorities in a timely fashion, prolonging consumer exposure to the products.

J & J might not be alone. It could have company in Perrigo. All signs point to an ongoing buyer beware. If Tylenol failed the American public, who has our backs or stomachs?

Update: J&J continues a slow drip recall on its pain products.