Popular medicine recalled

The Deputy Secretary of the Federal Department of Health Professor John Skerritt has issued a precautionary recall of a popular drug after evidence of tampering was found.

The product in question is Valium 5mg – a popular sedative used to treat muscle spasms, seizures and anxiety disorders.

Although there is no evidence that any patients have been harmed by this tampering, a police investigation into the allegations is under way.

Late last Thursday, Roche’s Symbion distribution facility in western Sydney notified authorities of potential product tampering. This tampering consisted of some of the blister packs containing medicines other than Valium. It appears that the aim of the tampering was to steal Valium product and exchange it with substitutes such as Pantoprazole, which is used for gastric reflux, and Stemetil, which is also used for nausea.

“This is a drug of abuse, and so it’s possible that someone who had access to that facility wanted to steal a certain amount of the drug and avoid their detection by replacing it with similar size foil blister packs of other medicines,” said Prof Skerritt.

“And we do know that drugs like Valium are of interest to criminal elements and are sold on the black market.

“We’ve identified what the replacement drugs are and certainly if they were taken by consumers and they weren’t suitable for those consumers there’s a risk of some harm. However, the appearance of those tablets is very different.”

Roche immediately notified all pharmacists in the distribution chain for this product.

Although there is only evidence of one batch being involved, Roche has decided to recall all Valium 5mg batches as a precautionary measure.

In a statement, Symbion said: “Following an internal investigation into allegations of tampering leading to the voluntary recall of some medicines being undertaken by Roche, Symbion Contract Logistics has today dismissed an employee from its Sydney-based distribution facility.”

Generic brands of diazepam should not be affected, so patients who need Valium of this dosage should be able to obtain alternative brands and supplies without any problem.

Anyone who has recently purchased Valium 5mg is advised to check the packaging, that it is not broken and all seals are intact. If you are suspicious of your medicines, please call 1800 233 950 or 1800 020 653 and report it immediately. You can also find out information at www.tga.gov.au.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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