When you hear the word "recall," what comes to mind? This year, a large percentage of pharma-watchers would no doubt answer, "Johnson & Johnson." And with good reason; after all, the company has pulled batches of more than 70 different products in one recall after another, including the record-setting, 35 million-package recall of J&J's widely used--even revered--brands of children's drugs.
But J&J was far from the only company forced to pull packages off the market. In fact, some of the troubles that afflicted J&J drugs, such as the "musty" or "moldy" odor implicated in recalls of Tylenol and other products, also hit other drugmakers. Pfizer, for instance, has repeatedly recalled more than 200,000 Lipitor bottles because of a musty or "uncharacteristic" smell traced back to the same wood preservative linked to J&J's malodorous woes. And Depomed recalled 52 lots of its diabetes drug Glumetza because of the same chemical.
And then there were the particulate recalls. Lundbeck pulled two lots of Neoprofen because of visible particulates in the injectable drug, touching off a temporary drug shortage. Novartis' generics unit recalled the rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis treatment methotrexate because small glass flakes were found in some vials. Halozyme and Baxter pulled Hylenex on similar glass-flake issues, and Amgen and J&J recalled their Epogen and Procrit anemia drugs because of potential contamination with tiny glass particles.
Floating matter caused the recall of several drugs made by India's Claris LifeSciences for customers such as Pfizer. J&J and Takeda yanked 13 lots of Velcade because polyester-like particles were found in some vials. And Hospira recalled some propofol because of stainless steel particles.
And that wasn't all; possibly tainted heparin from B. Braun, potentially beetle-ridden baby formula from Abbott Laboratories... the list goes on. Let's hope it doesn't get much longer in 2011.