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Johnson & Johnson recalls HIV/AIDS drug over musty smell

May 12, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Johnson & Johnson is recalling batches of an HIV/AIDS drug over reports of a foul smell likely caused by TBA, a chemical byproduct of the kind of preservative-treated wood used in warehouse pallets.
Johnson & Johnson is recalling batches of an HIV/AIDS drug over reports… (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles…)

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Johnson & Johnson is recalling a drug over an unpleasant odor … again.

Janssen, a unit of J&J, recalled four batches of the HIV/AIDS drug Prezista on Wednesday after four customers reported a musty smell. The recall is for 400 mg and 600 mg doses of the drug, the company said in a recall announcement, sent to Britain, Ireland, Germany and Austria.

A similar recall occurred last month:  Another Johnson & Johnson unit recalled 57,000 bottles of Topamax, an anti-seizure drug, in April over complaints of the foul odor.

And McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a Johnson & Johnson arm, has had several recalls for Tylenol, Motrin and other drugs for the stench.

The likely source of the odor is TBA, a chemical byproduct of wood preservatives sometimes applied to warehouse pallets. People can detect the foul taste or smell of TBA even in trace amounts, but the health risks are minimal — only a few people have reported gastrointestinal symptoms, according to a Food and Drug Administration guide on good manufacturing practices.

Those symptoms are small compared to the risk of stopping a drug mid-treatment. Janssen advises patients not to stop taking the medication.

The company said it launched an internal investigation with suppliers to find the source of the TBA and was asking suppliers to verify they are not using pallets with chemically treated wood.

This is beginning to sound familiar.

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For the record, 1:05 p.m. May 12 A previous version of this story said that five batches were being recalled, including a batch that had been sent to Canada. The company is still in discussion with Canadian authorities.

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