GlaxoSmithKline flags product tampering as wrong pills surface in alli packages

Some U.S. consumers found the wrong drug when they opened their packages of alli, the GlaxoSmithKline weight-loss pill, the company said. Glaxo ($GSK) is warning alli users to check their packages carefully and avoid taking any pills that might not be authentic.

The tampered-with packages have cropped up in 7 states, GSK said, and sharp-eyed consumers have reported 5 different lot numbers. The rogue packages may appear to be authentic on the outside, but the bottle could contain a variety of tablets and capsules, the company said in a release.

Also, the suspect alli bottles may not be labeled, and tamper-evident seals may not be intact, or they may not match the official versions. Finally, lot numbers and expiration dates on the bottles and outer cartons don't match.

"Consumers should not use the product if the authentic alli features ... are not present," GSK said.

The company appealed to consumers for help with its investigation. GSK asks that customers who think they bought a fake alli product contact its customer relations line (800-671-2554)--and keep all the packaging materials for potential inspection.

It's just the latest incident involving sabotaged drug packaging. Last year, some packages of a Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) diuretic pill in France were found to contain a sleep aid instead. Drug regulators inspected Teva's plant but found no manufacturing problems that would explain the swap, so they and the company concluded product tampering was to blame. And in 2011, Reckitt Benckiser recalled three lots of its Nurofen Plus painkiller after London patients found AstraZeneca's ($AZN) antipsychotic drug Seroquel in the packages.

- see the release from GSK

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