Monday, January 18, 2010

Recalling the McNeil Recall of '82

Because of the moldy odor of certain pills, McNeil has recalled a slew of products. These include certain lot numbers of Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis, Motrin, Rolaids and some children’s products. They contain a chemical called tribromoanisole (TBA), which is created through the breakdown of a compound used to treat the wood pallets these products are shipped on.

In 1982, another recall occurred, but this one was much more deadly. Before tamper-evident seals were introduced, a covert cyanide creep slipped some potent pills into bottles of pain reliever. Do you recall this recall? It was before I was born, but I can imagine the terror that Tylenol must have caused.

Despite what some may say, this is not now the case. Although you can get sick from TBA, it is no more severe than nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. And we almost expect to get those this time of year…just not from our medicines.

Although recalls seem to be plaguing us en masse lately, ranging from spinach to weight loss pills, the word “recall” has been around since 1582. Meaning “to bring back by calling upon” it was used primarily as a verb. Its more modern noun version is not so modern either – it was introduced in 1611.

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