Walgreen Co. and Kroger have removed Encaprin, a nonprescription painkiller, from their shelves nationwide following an anonymous warning that the drug was laced with cyanide, company officials said today.
There were no reports of actual tampering. The caller named an Encaprin lot number that does not exist and said the capsules had been tainted in Chicago and Detroit Walgreen stores. The drugstore chain, however, does not operate in the Detroit area, the company said.
The anonymous call was made to the corporate offices of the Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co., which makes the painkiller, according to Bob Norrish, director of public relations at Procter & Gamble.
"The caller gave us a lot number, and we don't have such a number on the brand," Norrish said here. "We have not found any products that have been tampered with."
Walgreen employes pulled the aspirin product from the chain's 1,170 stores after the removal was ordered over the company's computer system, the company said.
"We don't know if it was a crank call or what," said Thomas Mammoser, director of Walgreen's corporate communications. "But it doesn't take much to get the wheels started these days."
Kroger, a supermarket chain, removed the drug from 1,300 stores in 24 states. "We have no indication there are any problems at any of our stores," said Kroger spokeswoman Audrey McCafferty. "It's merely a precaution because there are still unanswered questions concerning the phone call that Procter & Gamble received."
Illinois Public Health Director Bernard Turnock issued an advisory cautioning consumers to refrain from using Encaprin bought at Walgreen's stores until further information is available.
"We do not see this incident as a health threat. But we are very sensitive to the issue of capsule tampering, and so we will take no chances," Turnock said.