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Pfizer Expands Recall Of Lipitor Due To Musty Odor

Even perfectly useful medicines aren't much good if they stink so much nobody wants to take them.

Drugmaker Pfizer is recalling a bunch more Lipitor after reports of a musty odor in more bottles of the popular cholesterol-fighting medicine.

This time about 38,000 bottles of high-strength Lipitor (40 milligram tablets) are affected. Pfizer recalled more than 300,000 bottles of Lipitor for the same reason last month and in August. There may be more recalls, as the drugmaker investigates.

Pfizer said the problem, reported at a rate of less than 3 times per million bottles, was traced to the maker of the bottles and is the result of a wood preservative used on shipping pallets.

Sound familiar? The chemical, called DBA for short, was also implicated as the troublemaker in a slew of recalls by Johnson & Johnson. Seems that bottles and other packaging materials can pick up the smell when sitting on stinky pallets.

Even a few parts per billion of the contaminant can be enough to make medicines smell moldy and musty. The tainted drugs still work and won't hurt you.

In testimony before a House committee, J&J CEO Bill Weldon said it was a real challenge for company scientists to figure out what was going on. The Food and Drug Administration wasn't too happy with the situation and sent the company a warning letter about the problems in January.

Since then the FDA has alerted other companies to the potential problem.

Pfizer says it started looking harder at the problem after hearing about the trouble other people were having. The company documented its investigation here.

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