Musty odor prompts another Lipitor recall

Pfizer ($PFE) is recalling another 19,000 bottles of the cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor, and once again the prompt was customer complaints about an unpleasant odor wafting from the bottles. The company has already pulled 370,000 smelly Lipitor bottles in three stages, beginning in August. Consumers cited a musty or moldy odor, in complaints similar to those that spawned repeated recalls of Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) consumer drugs.

Both Pfizer and J&J have said they traced the odor to a chemical used to preserve wooden pallets; J&J since has ditched wooden pallets altogether. Pfizer had already prohibited the use of that preservative in wood used to ship its medicines, so it's unclear why the chemical has cropped up in Lipitor. The newly recalled bottles were supplied by a contract manufacturer, the company said.

Like J&J, Pfizer has been working to quell the odor trouble, but this latest recall involves drugs made before improvements were made, Dow Jones reports. It was the company's increased attention to odor problems that unearthed trouble with the 19,000-bottle batch. "We have identified the source of the odor, and we are enacting rigorous measures to prevent odor-related issues going forward," Pfizer says in a statement.

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