- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2006

Check the bottle before taking a popular pain reliever.

Eleven million bottles of acetaminophen sold as store-brand products at 120 stores, such as CVS/pharmacy, Wal-Mart, Giant Food, Safeway, Eckerd and Food Lion, were recalled yesterday.

CVS, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Giant Food pulled all of their affected private-label acetaminophen, which was supplied by Perrigo Co., a major drug manufacturer, and sold as long ago as 2003. Other retailers did not reply to inquiries.

There are no immediate reports of injury or illness, but the Food and Drug Administration said swallowing an affected capsule could result in stomach discomfort or cuts to the mouth or throat.

The most popular brand of acetaminophen is Tylenol and is used to relieve pain and fevers. Tylenol is not involved in the recall.

Some of the pills may have small pieces of metal — from “microdots” to pieces that measure up to one-third of an inch, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The company said it found them during a quality control check and that 200 pills of the 70 million tested had traces of metal.

“Although the frequency of occurrence is very low, the probability of health risk is remote, and there have been no reports of injuries or illness related to this incident, we are taking this measure to maintain the highest possible product quality standards for our retail customers and their store brand consumers,” said John Hendrickson, executive vice president and general manager of Perrigo Consumer Healthcare.

CVS, Wal-Mart and Giant Food said they’re pulling the bottles from the shelves and blocking sales of the pills when they are scanned at registers.

At Wal-Mart, the product is sold as Equate Extra Strength Pain Reliever, 500-milligram acetaminophen noncoated white caplets. At CVS, it’s sold as CVS Brand Acetaminophen 500-milligram caplets.

Affected bottles have expiration dates from September 2006 through August 2009.

Both retailers said customers can return the medicine to stores for a full refund.

Molly Walsh, 21, a George Washington University student shopping at a CVS pharmacy in the District, said she didn’t plan to toss any of the store-brand drugs at home that she had bought to save money. Nor did she plan to stop buying the generic products.

“It’s still going to be cheaper and I’m still going to be broke after the recall,” she said.

Perrigo, an Allegan, Mich., company, calls itself the world’s largest manufacturer of store-brand nonprescription drugs. Its stock fell nearly 6 percent today to close at $17 on the Nasdaq.

To see if a bottle is subject to the recall, consumers can go to www.fda.gov/oc/po/firmrecalls/perrigo/perrigobatchlist.html and insert the batch number on the product’s label.

Consumers with questions can call Perrigo toll-free at 877/546-0454.

This article is based in part on wire-service reports.

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