Nurofen Plus stocks may pose threat


THE PHARMACY regulator last night called for all stocks of Nurofen Plus to be immediately removed from pharmacy shelves.

The alert comes after reports that some batches of Nurofen Plus contained individual blister packs of an anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel XL 50mg. Strips of Seroquel were initially found in three packets of Nurofen Plus in three branches of Boots in south London.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), the pharmacy regulator, last night contacted pharmacists and pharmacies in relation to the over-the-counter painkiller, requesting all stocks in pharmacies in Ireland be immediately quarantined and checked, in accordance with advice from the Irish Medicines Board.

The PSI has asked pharmacists to “remain vigilant and to assist patients and members of the public who may have concerns about the integrity of their medicines.”

The two drugs are marketed for very different uses. Nurofen Plus, made by Reckitt Benckiser, is an over-the-counter tablet containing codeine and is one of the most popular painkiller brands. Seroquel XL, manufactured by AstraZeneca, is a prescription-only anti-psychotic drug used to treat disorders including schizophrenia, mania and bipolar depression.

People who accidentally take Seroquel may experience sleepiness and are advised not to drive or operate any tools or machinery until they know how the tablets have affected them. Side-effects include dizziness, headaches and sleepiness. Reckitt Benckiser issued a statement saying “serious investigations” were under way to establish how the mix-up occurred: “After careful review of the manufacturing system, manufacturing errors by the makers of Nurofen Plus or Seroquel XL are not thought to be part of the cause at this stage.”

AstraZeneca said: “Patient safety is the primary concern of AstraZeneca and the company is taking the issue seriously. We are collaborating with the medicines and healthcare products Regulatory Agency and Reckitt Benkiser to investigate the root cause.”

Neither company has ruled out sabotage.