This musty-odor problem is a serious plague on Big Pharma. Pfizer has broadened its recall of the mega-blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor, citing new reports of a moldy smell. The new recall covers some 38,000 bottles of the drug, on top of two previous Lipitor recalls over the past few months; all together, the recalls involve about 360,000 bottles.
And it's not just Pfizer that's had musty troubles; Johnson & Johnson has had to conduct several consumer-drug recalls after consumers reported that the products smelled moldy. The odor was so strong it caused nausea in some users.
Both companies have blamed a chemical used on wooden pallets to prevent fires and, ironically enough, inhibit mold. Pfizer said it has been keeping an eye on potential odor problems associated with 2,4,6 tribromoanisole, or TBA, and warns that additional recalls may be necessary. The new recall covers bottles that were packaged before the TBA problem was identified.
Pfizer spokesman Ray Kerins told the Wall Street Journal that the problem has been traced to the bottle-maker's plant in Puerto Rico, which shipped empty bottles to a Pfizer plant in Germany for filling. Pfizer has switched to other packaging plants and has started requiring bottle-makers to use plastic pallets rather than wood, Kerins said.