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Over-the-counters taken off shelves

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Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 12:00 am

A musty odor emanating from certain over-the-counter medications produced by McNeil Consumer Healthcare has led to a voluntary recall of many popular over-the-counter medications including Tylenol, Benadryl and Motrin.

According to a press release, McNeil Consumer Healthcare believes the products themselves are not contaminated. The smell is believed to come from a chemical applied to the wooden pallets that are used to transport the product. In a small number of cases, the odor has been associated with gastrointestinal problems like nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. However, the chemical is not believed to cause serious negative health effects to users of the products.

Bill Milne, assistant manager of County Market, 331 E. Stoughton St. in Champaign, said the recall could not have come at a worse time, as University students are returning from winter break.

“Everyone is just coming back and refilling their medicine cabinets,” Milne said. “It may not be as true in other parts of the U.S., but it sure is here in good old Champaign-Urbana.”

According to Milne, County Market was instructed to take the recalled items off the shelves. The items were then returned to their reclamation center and picked up by the manufacturers.

Milne is unsure when County Market will be able to restock its shelves with fresh products, but he said he hopes it will be within 90 days. In the meantime, Milne says a large amount of other available options to consumers will not hurt business.

“There’s so much variety,” Milne said. “It’s not as though the recalled products are the only ones available. When the student will walk up there, they’re going to go ‘Oh, they don’t have ‘this,’ I’ll try ‘this’ instead.’”

Walgreens, 407 E. Green Street in Champaign, has also removed recalled products from its shelves. A white paper sign is posted in their former spaceto explain the absence of the recalled products.

Walgreens Spokeswoman Tiffany Washington said the stores have not only removed the recalled products from their shelves, but have also blocked sales at their registers, in the event that a recalled product is scanned at the register.

Washington said customers are encouraged to speak with Walgreens pharmacists to come up with alternative over-the-counter medications to treat their symptoms.

“We do our best to minimize any inconvenience to our consumers,” Washington said. “Walgreens pharmacy staff are a great resource.”

David P. Lawrance, medical director of McKinley Health Center, said the McKinley pharmacy and resource rooms do not carry any of the recalled products.

“We have mostly generic equivalent products,” Lawrance said. “They do the same thing. They are much less expensive for us to purchase.”

He added that anyone who may have ingested any of the recalled products should not panic.

“Anyone who has taken any medicine from an affected lot should have nothing to worry about,” Lawrance said. “I’d simply recommend that they stop using it and contact the manufacturer so that they can arrange replacing.”

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