Tylenol recall: Odor problems plague Johnson & Johnson

Tylenol recall announced Monday represents the sixth time in a year that Johnson & Johnson has taken back products because of a musty or moldy odor.

Richard B. Levine/Newscom/File
A collection of Tylenol and other over-the-counter pain relievers is shown in a New York drugstore in February. On Oct. 18, Johnson & Johnson announced a new recall of Tylenol – its sixth in a year because of a musty or moldy odor.

Call it the bad penny of recalls: Problems linked to the storage of Tylenol keep coming back to haunt Johnson & Johnson.

On Monday, one of its business units issued a new recall announcement – its sixth – for a musty or moldy odor in one of its products.

Unlike previous Tylenol recalls, which were related to complaints lodged months earlier, the latest recall was prompted by a new round of consumer reports of odors.

"We're continuing to investigate it," says Mark Boston, a spokesman for McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the Johnson & Johnson unit that produced the Tylenol. The company believes the new complaints are related to packaging components that were used in the production of the lot, he adds.

The specific recall involves Tylenol 8 hour caplets. Consumers who buy the Tylenol should check their packaging. The recalled Tylenol is lot No. BCM155 (it also has bar code No. 3 0045-0297-51 8.)

The company has struggled to get a handle on the odor problems for nearly a year.

In November 2009, after months of consumer complaints, the company recalled a limited number of Tylenol arthritis caplets. A month later, it had traced the odor to a chemical, 2,4,6-tribromoanisole, used in wooden pallets involved in the storage and transportation of the product at the company's Las Piedras facility in Puerto Rico.

As a result, McNeil recalled more lots of Tylenol in December and, in January 2010, expanded the recall again. In June, the recall spread to certain lots of Johnson & Johnson's Benadryl as well as more Tylenol; in July, it spread to Motrin as well as more Tylenol.

This week's recall, involving a single lot of Tylenol, is the smallest so far related to the moldy odor. But with the new round of complaints, the company may have to look beyond pallets for the source of the problem.

Consumers should stop using any recalled product immediately, McNeil says, and contact the company for a refund or product coupon. The company can be reached at 888-222-6036 or through its website www.tylenol.com.

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