Thursday, May 31, 2012

So is Seroquel a "noxious substance"?

UK Nurofen Plus tamperer is jailed for 18 months

The man behind last year's Nurofen Plus contamination case in the UK was jailed for 18 months at Southwark Crown Court in London today.

30-year-old Christopher McGuire was arrested last September and charged with one count of contaminating goods and two counts of administering a noxious substance.

In order to feed his codeine habit, McGuire placed strips of AstraZeneca's Seroquel XR (quetiapine) into empty Nurofen Plus packs and swapped them for new packets at pharmacies. He was being prescribed Seroquel XR to help manage symptoms of schizophrenia.

McGuire would then attempt to pay for the new packs with a card he knew would be declined, and while the pharmacist was distracted switch the new pack for the old one containing the Seroquel XR blisters. He is reported to have been taking more than 30 Nurofen Plus tablets a day to satisfy his codeine addiction.

The discovery of the adulterated packs prompted a recall of 250,000 packs of Nurofen Plus by manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser at an estimated cost of £2.5m ($3.9m), while two people took the antipsychotic medication in error, placing their health at risk.

It is worth noting that while European plans for a unique identifier system for medicines do not currently cover over-the-counter products, in the case of prescription medicines this kind of tampering might have been detected, for example when the pharmacist scanned the swapped pack back into inventory.

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