Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor
Over the summer, three medications distributed by the Health and Wellness Center were recalled by Torrent Pharmaceuticals Inc.: Robafin DM Syrup, Oxymetazolineum Nasal Spray and Anu-Med Suppository. Students were notified via email on July 16.
According to the branch of Torrent Pharma’s distributing company that works with Berry, McKesson Co., the voluntary recall is in response to a potential contamination with the bacteria Burkholderia cepacia (B. cepacia) and Ralstonia pickettii (R. pickettii). According to the Center for Disease Control, neither bacteria is proven dangerous to most, however they could impact those with vulnerable lungs and immune systems. Therefore, the medications were recalled out of an abundance of caution.
The recall includes three drugs, Robafin DM Syrup, a cough syrup, Oxymetazolineum Nasal Spray, a spray that treats general allergies and sinus issues, and Anu-Med Suppository, a hemorrhoid medication. All three have been distributed from the Berry Health and Wellness Center.
As Health and Wellness Center Student Director Hannah Pitts explained, the email was sent out in order to explain and make students aware of the situation.
“We just wanted to let students know, in case they hadn’t seen anything about it in the news,” Pitts said. “I had notseen it anywhere else. We just needed students to see it”
Emma Cordle, Health and Wellness Center director, emphasized the importance of students receiving notification of the issue, pointing out that it can be easy to continuously store and use drugs over long periods of time.
“The most important thing is that we wanted to make sure people weren’t using it,” Cordle said. “It was liquids, like cough medicine or saline nasal sprays, that kind of thing, so we didn’t want those things to sit in medicine cabinets for years and still be used.”
The Health and Wellness Center encourages students to check their medical supplies, to ensure there is no potentially contaminated medication. The issue reportedly occurred in 2016, so any of those drugs received within the last three years should not be taken. As of this summer, Berry’s Health Center only possessed one small bottle from the list of recalled medications.
“We just looked to see what we had in stock, which was only one bottle of medication,” Cordle said. “It was actually nothing that was being used, it was just some liquid Tylenol medicine that hadn’t even been opened. But some of the medications had already been distributed, and that’s why we felt the need to notify.”
If students realize they currently possess any of the three medications, they are encouraged to bring them to the Health and Wellness Center for proper disposal. According to Madison Smith, outreach studet outreach director for the Health Center, since the products may be contaminated, bringing them to the Health and Wellness Center is the safest way to ensure there is no further contamination.
“For students, it’s probably easiest to bring it here,” Smith said. “That way they know it’s being disposed of in the correct way and they know it isn’t just thrown in the trash, where it could contaminate something else.”
The Health and Wellness Center does not plan to switch medication retailers. McKesson is working with Berry to replace all of the potentially contaminated drugs and ensure the problem subsides. Furthermore, the company is doing the best they can to ensure the contamination does not happen again.
“We trust the company that we use,” Pitts said. “The company we use is McKesson, and we trust them. Drug recalls happen all the time so it obviously wasn’t intentional. They let us know as soon as they knew. It just happened, and it’s not great that it happened, but they’re fixing it.”
The recall was mainly a precautionary measure. According to Pitts, only a small portion of the medical batch was contaminated, and students were unlikely to have taken or currently possess any of that portion.
“Students really shouldn’t worry,” Pitts said. “It probably wasn’t everything in the batch that was contaminated. They found it in a little bit, it probably won’t affect you. It isn’t anything to freak out about. They are just being overly cautious and letting us know that over this whole period of time, it is possible.”
If students are interested in learning more about the recall, sources in the email sent out by Lindsay Taylor, dean of students, on July 16 provide more information about the recall, how to dispose of contaminated medication and what risks the recalled drugs present. Additionally, various national health institutes and organizations can provide useful news and information concerning drug recalls that do not specifically affect Berry medications.
“The best source is going to be the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration,” Cordle said. “That’s really your go to place for that kind of thing. Sometimes you may look things up with the CDC. For drugs, it’s going to be more the FDA. But for bacteria or other contaminants students might look at the CDC.”
Furthermore, if students have questions or concerns regarding the recall that happened during the summer, they are encouraged to reach out to the Health and Wellness Center.
“If a student is worried, they can let us know,” Cordle said. “If they have any concerns, they are welcome to come to us. I do want students not to be afraid to come to the Ladd Center and take our medications. I can’t guarantee that in five years we won’t get another recall, but that’s the same everywhere you go.”