A recall has been issued by Pfizer for 191,000 bottles of Lipitor after reports of a musty odor. The cause is incredibly not as uncommon as you would think: pesticide-treated pallets. There are no expected adverse health problems from this unwanted smell.
We have seen the “pesticide in the pallet” problem before. Johnson & Johnson had a recall of Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl. But, notwithstanding the public relations disaster, there were no adverse health consequences to that recall either.
Lipitor is the world’s largest-selling prescription drug, with annual sales over $11 billion. Pfizer has faced lawsuits involving the health consequences of Lipitor. Plaintiffs claimed that Pfizer failed to warn that the risks associated with Lipitor could be potentially more harmful than the cholesterol level being treated. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that Lipitor was not accompanied by appropriate warnings of the increased risk of side effects that occurred when ingestion of Lipitor caused the lowering of essential enzyme levels in the body. But these lawsuits never really went anywhere. I’m no medical expert, of course, but I think this is because for the vast majority of people on Lipitor, the benefits of lowering their cholesterol outweigh the risks of the drug.
This is a blow to Pfizer’s best-selling drug but it is hardly a fatal one. In fact, there will probably be no long term impact on Lipitor or its market share.