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P&G's ENCAPRIN REMOVED BY WALGREEN CHAIN

Executive Summary

P&G's ENCAPRIN REMOVED BY WALGREEN CHAIN as a precautionary move after an anonymous phone caller told Procter & Gamble about tampering with maximum strength 50 mg caps. On March 27, the caller told P&G that cyanide had been put in several maximum strength caps and placed in Walgreen stores in Chicago and Detroit. The tampering threat was not immediately confirmed by product testing from the field, and P&G is taking a wait-and-see approach to the situation. A P&G spokesperson said: "We will be analyzing the product and determining what to do." No further action, such as recall or production halt, will be taken the spokesperson said, until the company has "determined what actually happened." Both FDA and the company speculate that the call was a hoax. They base that view on two facts: the product code number identified by the caller is not a P&G code; and Walgreen has no stores in Detroit. Walgreen has been one of the chains with the swiftest responses to the tampering threats. In reaction to the P&G threat, the chain immediately called for removal of Encaprin caps from its 1,170 stores. "Late last night," a Walgreen spokesperson said on March 28, "we sent a message over our pharmacy computer network to all of our drugstores to immediately remove all Encaprin capsules from the shelves, extra-strength and regular strength." The chain said that it took the action as "a very cautious and conservative approach." The Proprietary Assn. (P-A) issued a March 24 offer of "rewards totaling $700,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons responsible for a series of criminal tampering with OTC medicines dating back to 1982." P-A also set up a hotline to receive information about the crimes. The P&G incident highlights the across-the-board threat of capsule tampering to the OTC industry: not just the big name products like Tylenol and Contac are susceptible to attack. OTC capsule marketers are facing two distinct challenges: (1) preparations for tampering threats; and (2) the search for capsule and/or packaging alternatives. The 1985 wave of tampering threats, when looked at in its most positive light, could be an incentive for new forms of packaging or drug delivery systems. The capsule has been the favored form of timed release medication but other forms such as controlled release liquids and the Alza OROS system have been tested. In a field with regulatory pressures for standardized labeling claims and active ingredients, the tamper-resistant response may provide new product opportunities.
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