The Tylenol Recall–What a Headache!

This week I went to my sample closet looking for recalled versions of McNeil children’s products. Yes, even some samples were recalled! Fortunately, I found out that I don’t have samples of any of the items. I used to be upset that I rarely received samples of Tylenol or Motrin brands, because it is nice to be able to give some to a parent when their child has a fever (or after immunizations) so that the parent does not have to stop at the store on their way home.

I guess I should be glad that I do not have to track down any patients to whom I have given samples. Since I have received a lot of telephone calls from anxious parents, I thought I better research the recalled items further.

McNeil Consumer Healthcare is initiating this voluntary recall because some of these products may not meet required quality standards. This recall is not being undertaken on the basis of adverse medical events…Consumers can contact the company at 1-888-222-6036 and also at”

McNeil products websites go on to say, “Some of the products included in the recall may contain a higher concentration of active ingredient than is specified; others may contain inactive ingredients that may not meet internal testing requirements; and others may contain tiny particles.”

McNeil has also recalled certain forms of Motrin Infant Drops (berry flavored) and Children’s Motrin ® berry flavored, dye free suspension. Remember that the infants’ version of any pain reliever is typically more concentrated than the children’s version, and so should not be used in children over the age of one year.

Even certain hospital versions of Children’s Motrin have been recalled, as well as doctors’ samples. Children’s Motrin Cold Formulas have been recalled as well. Remember, over the counter cold medicines are not safe (and also not found to be effective) in children under the age of nine. I wrote about the 2008 recall of over the counter cold medicines on the American Academy of Pediatrics website.

Other products recalled include Children’s Zyrtec Sugar Free Dye Free Bubble Gum flavor and Zyrtec grape flavored syrup in several size bottles.

To find out if you have the formulation that is recalled, enter the NDC (identification) number from your bottle body=/zyrtec/pages/ndc_finder.jsp here.

Children’s Benadryl and Infants’ Benadryl drops were also recalled.

You can get a refund or coupon for future purchase by filling out the McNeil form here.

Answers to frequently asked questions about the recalled medications, including how to dispose of unused medicine and what to do if you have given these agents to your child, are also available.

The recall brings up some really important points for doctors and parents. First, any medication ingested potentially could have side effects or cause problems. So you should only take a medicine or give it to your child if you absolutely need it. That goes double for medications like antibiotics, which are often prescribed without thought to sick patients.

Second, in some cases, there are generic versions which can be used instead of the brand name Motrin (ibuprofen), Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and Tylenol (acetaminophen). Other non-sedating antihistamines (except brand name Benadryl) such as loratadine can be used instead of Zyrtec (certirizine).

Last Updated May 9, 2010 by Dr. Vee

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