You may have heard about the recall of Nurofen Plus in the UK on the news in the last 24 hours due to sabotage. It’s a pain relief tablet that I use and therefore I was obviously interested to understand the situation after I heard about it on the BBC news. Apparently individual blister packs of an anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel XL 50mg were initially found in three packets of Nurofen Plus in three branches of Boots in south London.
The BBC reports today that in the UK the manufacturers of Nurofen Plus (a pain killer), Reckitt Benckiser (UK) Ltd, have recalled all remaining stock, saying sabotage is suspected in some packets. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued an alert after three packs were found to contain an antipsychotic drug. A spokesman for Reckitt Benckiser (UK) Ltd said the firm was working with police on a formal investigation to find those responsible.
You can read about the situation of the Nurofen Plus recall on the Telegraph in the UK here.
A little research on the web finds this video posted by ITVNews on YouTube from 25 August about the sabotage – at that time Nurofen was not recalled in the UK.
On the Nurofen UK website they have a statement about the recall. And you can find four press releases about the Nurofen Plus situation in the UK at the time of writing this article on the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (part of the Department of Heath in the UK).
I thought I would take a look at the Reckitt Benckiser web properties to see what I could find.
There is nothing at the time of writing this article on their YouTube channel or Facebook Page (where they could have done a geo targetted statement to those of us in Ireland and the UK).
However on their Twitter account you can find a Tweet with a link back to the Nurofen UK website statement.
Interestingly taking a look for the Twitter account under the name of Nurofen you can see it has a ‘squatter’ and the account is not active – I would recommend that Reckitt Benckiser claim the name under Twitter’s trade mark policy for a violation of their trademark.
If you are in Ireland and want to know the status of the situation on Nurofen Plus you can find an article on the Irish Medical Board’s website with a note to pharmacists – a summary of which is as follows:
Packs of Nurofen Plus Tablets have been found on the UK market (including Northern Ireland) to contain rogue blister strips of either Seroquel XL 50mg Tablets or Neurontin 100mg Capsules. While there have been no serious health consequences to any consumer in the UK, sabotage of the product is suspected and Reckitt Benckiser UK is working with the UK police on a formal investigation into the issue.Distribution of Nurofen Plus has been halted in Ireland and in the UK at this time. Situation in Ireland: There is no evidence at this time that the Irish market is affected. The impacted Nurofen Plus pack size on the UK market is a 32 pack size and this pack size is not authorised for sale in Ireland. This issue only applies to Nurofen Plus Tablets and no other Nurofen product is affected. As a precautionary measure, and following discussions with the IMB, Reckitt Benckiser (Ireland) has decided to recall from the wholesale distribution chain in Ireland all unexpired packs of Nurofen Plus Tablets, in all pack sizes and of any batch number. This is so that those packs can be checked for the presence of rogue blister strips and Patient Information Leaflets.
The article then goes on to say:
If you receive queries from patients about this issue, as a precautionary measure, please advise them to check their packs to make sure that they contain Nurofen Plus blister strips and a Nurofen Plus Patient Information Leaflet. In the event that a patient contacts you to advise that they have identified a different product or a different Patient Information Leaflet within their pack of Nurofen Plus, please ask them to bring their pack to you and please immediately contact the IMB with this information.
You can find an article about the situation in Ireland on the Irish Independent.
The Irish Times reports that the Irish pharmacy regulator last night called for all stocks of Nurofen Plus to be immediately removed from pharmacy shelves. The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), the pharmacy regulator, last night contacted pharmacists and pharmacies in relation to the over-the-counter painkiller, requesting all stocks in pharmacies in Ireland be immediately quarantined and checked, in accordance with advice from the Irish Medicines Board.
Checking on the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland website however their latest news is from 6 June 2011 so there is no mention of the Nurofen Plus situation in Ireland.
Yes I know that this is not a life threatening situation, but if you were in the situation of having to manage a product recall what would you do?
An integrated plan for your crisis communications and product recall is critical.
And how would you manage this is you have a distribution channel for your product that you do not own all the way through to the consumer?
It’s no longer sufficient to think that you can only use traditional media suck as TV and radio to get your message out. Especially when it is a consumer goods product – those consumers surely deserve to hear about your product recall wherever they choose to particpate online. That potentially means using all your social media sites – and those of your partners and distributors. And don’t forget to make sure that it’s easy for people to find your latest news on your website unlike in the situation of the PSI.
Remember the public – yout customers and consumers – can then help sharing the news to their networks online and offline – as an example I could see lot’s of people Tweeting about the situation with Nurofen Plus helping pass on the word to their friends and followers.
And remember for a product lik Nurofen Plus you have to communicate across geographic boundaries – social media and digital channels provide a great way to do this. For example I am sure that Nurofen Plus was stocked at the Boot’s pharmacies at the airports and therefore travellers may have purchased the product. Boots does have details about the recall of Nurofen Plus on it’s website.
For a little inspiration take a look at how the FDA in the US handled the recall of peanuts back in 2009 using social media channels to handle their crisis communications.
If you are a PR or communications professional, please ensure you have joined up thinking in your crisis communications plans – and if you are in Ireland and looking for guidance, you might want to join me and other PR and communications professionals for the next social media communications programme where we will be covering this topic in depth – drop me an email if you want to know more about this four day programme which starts 3 September 2011.
What other ways could you imagine using to handle a product recall using an integrated approach to your crisis communications?