Phrase of the month: stealth recall


Orson Welles as Harry Lime in "The Third Man," based on Graham Greene's novella

From Huffington Post:

A Washington state couple is suing Johnson & Johnson, alleging their toddler son was killed after taking defective Children’s Tylenol from a batch that had been recalled – part of the company’s continuing string of recalls of drugs and medical devices.

Daniel and Katy Moore of Ellensburg, Wash., claim 2-year-old River Moore was given Very Berry Strawberry flavored Children’s Tylenol for a slight fever late on July 22, 2010 and began spitting up blood 30 minutes later.

He was rushed to a hospital and died the next day of liver failure. The family’s lawyer, Joseph Messa of Philadelphia, said Thursday that the liquid medicine contained excessive acetaminophen that damaged the child’s liver, causing his death…

… Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that its 2010 recalls of children’s products were not related to the “serious adverse events or cases of overdose” alleged in the lawsuit. It said the New Brunswick, N.J.-based company promptly notified consumers, doctors, retailers and regulators about the recall…

Reading the story, I wondered about government oversight of pharmaceutical giants — I wondered when it ended, that is. And how could any government that actually works for the public good fail to bring charges against the big chiefs at corporations involved in the production and distribution of tainted drugs? I’ll bet there are heroin dealers who have more scruples.

…The recall was one of more than two dozen that J&J has issued since September 2009, for products ranging from adult and children’s nonprescription Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl and other medicines to prescription drugs for HIV and seizures, defective hip implants that caused severe pain and contact lenses that irritated the eyes…

…The number of recalls and the company’s handling of them – including a 2008 “stealth recall” in which J&J paid another company to secretly buy up defective Motrin packets from stores – have generated investigations by Congress and the Food and Drug Administration

Investigations? Anyone who would authorize an ultra-risky “stealth recall” is worse than Harry Lime, who sold watered-down penicillin on the black market in The Third Man. At least Lime didn’t pretend to be an upstanding citizen. If I were religious, I’d wonder how the people responsible for the kid’s death can live with themselves.

For you classicists out there: To which circle of hell would Dante’s god have consigned corporate chiefs who repeatedly produce — and sometimes don’t manage to recall — potentially lethal “medicine?”

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5 Responses to Phrase of the month: stealth recall

  1. Pingback: Phrase of the month: stealth recall

  2. riverdaughter says:

    Believe it or not, we pharma people blog about how we can predict toxicity of medicines and the current consensus is that nobody really knows. To me, it looks like drugs that have been approved in the last couple of decades are far, far safer than anything that preceded them. That’s because we are seriously committed to making them as safe as possible. It’s the older drugs that have the highest toxicities and side effects and some of them are over the counter. You’d probably destroy the over the counter industry if you banned all of them. But this also sort of proves the point that most medicines are safe. Serious side effects are rare, even for the older drugs.
    (except tylenol. I would avoid it.)

    Like

  3. riverdaughter says:

    Forgot to include a link to one of the most recent blog posts on the subject.
    http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2012/01/06/do_we_believe_these_things_or_not.php#comments
    We’re frustrated. It’s a hard nut to crack.

    Like

  4. The novella was based on the movie.

    Not the other way round.

    Like

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