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HHP Medication Safety Watch: July 2021

August 4, 2021

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This list contains selected items from the full FDA list of recalls, withdrawals, and alerts for medicines and certain health products. We've provided links to FDA information for each product and its maker. Unless otherwise noted, these actions apply only to the specific brand name of the product listed. Talk to your healthcare provider before stopping or changing any medicines or treatments that they have recommended for you.


Over-the-counter products and medicines

Hand sanitizer recalled because containers look like water bottles

Comment: The maker of this product is recalling one lot because the containers resemble water bottles. This may increase the risk of accidentally drinking it. Hand sanitizers contain alcohol, and drinking it may cause poor coordination, slurred speech, sedation, or even coma and death due to alcohol toxicity. In addition, alcohol can interact with many medicines and can impair driving.

See additional FDA recalls and alerts for more than 250 hand sanitizer products in recent months due to alcohol contamination, inappropriate packaging, bacterial contamination, or other problems.

Sunscreens recalled because of cancer-causing contaminant

Comment: Five brands of aerosol sunscreen products are being recalled by their maker because low levels of benzene were found in some samples. Benzene is considered a carcinogen (a substance that can cause cancer), although the low levels found in these sunscreens would not be expected to cause health problems.

The source of contamination is under investigation. This recall should not discourage people from using other sunscreens, as they help protect users not only from sun damage but also from skin cancer.


Prescription medicines

Some lots of Chantix recalled due to higher than acceptable levels of a cancer-causing contaminant
  • Chantix, certain lots of 0.5 mg and 1 mg tablets and certain Chantix kits containing 0.5 mg/1 mg tablets (maker: Pfizer)

Comment: The maker of the smoking cessation drug Chantix has recalled certain lots of this medicine due to higher than acceptable levels of N-nitroso-varenicline, a type of nitrosamine. Though nitrosamines are found in water and many foods, they may cause cancer if exposure is higher than acceptable levels over the long term.


Read additional issues of HHP Medication Safety Watch

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As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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