Pharma Industry involves one of the highest amounts of research and testing before going into production. Despite that, the truckload of errors and side-effects involved in medications and drugs certainly does not miss the attention. Only very few of these actually get noticed and reported, usually when the results are fatal or serious, but even that counts for a large number. Let us have a look at some of the largest drug and other pharma recalls in history.
1. Johnson and Johnson – Tylenol Recall
The Tylenol recall, which happened as early as 1982, is one of the earliest recall activities, especially self-initiated, not just in the pharma industry, but across domains. And it was at a massive scale as well, at 31mn bottles of the painkiller being recalled. The financial losses accounted for $100mn even then. However, this incident is known for the quick reaction of J&J which after the initial shock and helped them gain more trust as the company’s shares bounced back within two months of the incident. Afterall, J&J had no association to cyanide poisoning which caused the 7 deaths, as a bottle of Tylenol had been tampered with and the tablets coated with cyanide. This also made them more vigilant, as they introduced better packing of drugs and come-up with tamper proof caps.
2. Merck’s - Vioxx Recall
Probably one of the largest impacts in terms of drug recall, Vioxx was a drug famous for arthritis, topping sales charts for over five years along with another similar drug. However, reports found that the drug increased the chances of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks in consumers. It took a while, but the drug was finally recalled in 2004, 5 years after it was introduced. The disturbing fact is that, some reports claim that the drug could have been the cause of nearly 3,00,000 heart attacks and almost 60,000 deaths though official statements say it resulted in about 30,000 incidents with over 3000 affected testifying it. It cost nearly $4.5bn in lawsuits and $320mn more in fines for the company.