Tylenol and Motrin recall

A couple of weeks ago, as I pulled a bottle of Children’s Motrin out of my medicine cabinet, I noticed that the orangish liquid inside was cloudy, partially separated (foamy lighter orange at the top and darker orange at the bottom), and just, well, not what I had seen so many times before.  Instead of giving my child a dose for his fever, I set it aside and gave him Children’s Tylenol instead.  After I soothed him to sleep, I contacted the company, stating that the bottle was just … not right, and they should know.  They asked me to send it in in a mailer that they’d send out, and I agreed.

As so often happens, other concerns overtook this one, but the bottle was still out (of reach) when the mailer came.  I snagged the coupon, put the bottle in the mailer, and didn’t think of it again — until I saw this announcement:

Johnson & Johnson and McNeil are recalling all nonexpired liquid Children’s Motrin, Children’s Tylenol, Infant’s Motrin, and Infant’s Tylenoll.

Put it aside.  Don’t use it.  They’re not clear about what we should do with it, exactly, but for now, all parents should take a moment and check their bottles for the lot number (the number on the bottle just above the word “Motrin” or “Tylenol”), and, if it matches a number on the press release, please don’t give it to your kids.  Put it out of reach.  As the company says, it could contain “a higher concentration of active ingredient than is specified; others may contain inactive ingredients that may not meet internal testing requirements; and others may contain tiny particles.”

Not cool, J&J.

But you know what is cool?  The fact that they take the trouble to respond to consumer concerns (like mine), test the liquids that are sent back, and put out these voluntary recalls when there are concerns about some of the manufactured medicines.


42 Responses to Tylenol and Motrin recall

  1. Jess H says:

    Oh my word. I’m such a ditz not to connect the dots. I dumped a bottle of children’s berry flavored Motrin earlier this week. Instead of berry-ish, it was gloppy and cream colored. I was frazzled with a feverish child, gave a different med, and dumped the weird stuff.

    I should have called the Motrin folks… and I’m glad you thought to. I’ll check the rest of our meds, but this recall seems to be hitting very close to home.

    • whymommy says:

      Ooh, I bet we had bottles from the same lot. It was weird — but not so weird that it was a big deal, right? I was stunned to hear about the recall after that!

  2. Amy says:

    I had two bottles – one Tylenol and one Motrin – that are under the recall.

    Great post – I’m going to link to it!!

  3. Angela says:

    Thanks for blogging and tweeting this! I was so upset to hear about these recalls this morning, but I don’t have the kind of readership that you have access to. And this affects so many families I’m hoping the word gets out fast. We have our 4 year old on Zyrtec daily (and yep, it’s included in the recall) and have been giving him the Motrin on the recall list through several colds this spring. One of them just this past Wednesday.

    I heard today that it was safe to give them the generics, so luckily have some of those on hand for benadryl and tylenol. BUT the reason we have generic benadryl is that we JUST finished an entire bottle of it for him this past week. The thought that we might have been giving him something that could be less than healthy… it’s just so disturbing.

  4. Oh, I’m glad I only have generics on hand at the moment. Great catch you made.

  5. Elaine says:

    First, THANK YOU. My bottles don’t look weird, but all four of the Tylenol and Motrin bottles in my house are under recall – two of which I gave to my son on Thursday. Crap.

    • whymommy says:

      Elaine, the press release says that the higher concentration is only harmful in multiple doses — so if he’s fine, you’re fine, from what I can see.

  6. Krista says:

    I just saw this recall through twitter tonight and both my children’s Tylenol and Motrin were on the list. Both of which we bought at Christmas when our son had a high fever and we were on vacation. We were giving him them in alternating doses to keep his fever down so I’m very glad that he didn’t get sick from them considering how much he had in his system.
    And to think I almost gave him more last night since he got shots yesterday. The Tylenol bottle was almost empty so I’m guessing (hoping) that ours was fine, but gosh, scary!
    Do you think your bottle triggered the recall or yours plus many others sent in?

    • whymommy says:

      Oh, I’m sure that it was mine plus many others — which is why it’s important that we all report when we see things that “just aren’t right” — and I’m so glad that they took my complaint seriously.

  7. Thank you so much for posting this Susan. My bottle of Children’s motrin was on the list and after close inspection it is definitely separating with a cloudy upper portion and dark clear liquid below.

    I am definitely going to tell everyone I know about this.

  8. chemmom says:


    As a chemist and a mom I am so angry about this recall. They are required by law, as are other pharma companies to test all consumer complaints. I used to do that for a different company. Don’t give McNeil that much credit! They were irresponsible in manufacturing and testing BEFORE the drugs hit the shelves. There are measures put in place to prevent our children from being in any danger and they obviously did not bother to be preventative and cautious.

    • whymommy says:

      Chemmom, this is true. I guess with everything out there these days, I’m just happy that moms’ complaints are taken seriously, whether or not it’s required by law.

      Between this and the toy issues over the past few years, it’s so frustrating! We’d go back to wooden toys if our boys weren’t so big now.

  9. Lindsay says:

    Thank you Susan!! You are terrific.

    • rhonda mason says:

      wow i just seen this. my daughter stayed home from school saturday she took some motrin now half empty and has not been feeling good. she woke up early this morning vomiting,no fever, waited a while ate breakfast then vomited within an hour. the recall is not listed possible effects but maybe this is one , or a stomach bug. i dont know now im worried. i have the tylenol too. brand new bottle. one dose given. nothing happened in my other child it was given last night.

  10. Cate says:

    Just an FYI – don’t confuse the NDC # with the lot number. Lot numbers are present near the expiration date.

    The NDC #s are broad for each type (flavor, dye-free, etc) of Motrin, Tylenol, etc.

  11. Cheryl says:

    They have also recalled Childrens Zyertec….which I give to my son almost every day since the poor kid inherited my allergies

  12. Tiffany says:

    I just heard of this recall this morning and went straight to my med.cabinet where sure enough, I have two bottles that needed to go. Just four days ago, I gave my 3yr. old some tylenol and six hours later, motrin, due to a fever. The day I gave him med. for his fever, he began to say “MOMMY QUIT DOING THAT!” I had no idea what he was talking about so i ask him,”doing what son?” he replied in anger, “MAKING THAT MONSTER SOUND” I told him it wasn’t me and for all that day and the next, he kept saying this to me. He told me it was a growling sound which we didn’t hear. I now wonder if it was due to him taking this medicine? I only gave it to him that day and only one time per each med. but he heard this “NOISE” for two days!! I’m very concerned about giving him anything now!! Thank you all for posting your concerns, it’s very helpfull to me and my family.

  13. Cate says:

    Tiffany – sounds like your kiddo might have had other things going on than the meds. I know my kids will say they can ‘hear their pulse’ when they have a temp., and that is without any meds on board.

    So I spent the 20 minutes on hold with McNeil at 1-888-222-6036. They gathered basic information about the product I had (NDC #, Lot# and expiration date). Consumers will be issued coupons for complete product replacement once the recall is completed and product is ‘safe’ to be placed on the store shelves again.

  14. Jean says:

    Omg, I am shocked. My 3 yr old had pneumonia and I piggy backed children’s motrin and tylenol the whole time. The pneumonia cleared up but he started vomiting. No fever. Doctor thought his cough triggered his reflux. He’s had diarrhea and nausea for 3 weeks! Nothing helps. Stool test was negative and he is scheduled for an MRI and EEG this week. The meds I gave him were on the recall list. I am sick.

  15. Robin Hurwitz says:

    I checked yesterday and, after being on hold 29 minutes with McNeil (got disconnected), called the drug store and then threw out two bottles. Forwarded the info to everybody I know. Thanks for sharing.

  16. mary says:

    While I am glad that they acted quickly and that you reported the problem I am furious with McNeil — this is their SECOND recall of children’s tylenol this year (adult tylenol was recalled in the first one too as well as other adult meds). They clearly have some sort of serious quality assurance problem. And as we stock up on these items, the paultry coupons they send back are not really helpful as they wouldn’t cover our losses even if I would buy their products again). If I had realized they made Zyrtec (which my daugher has been taking daily for hives for YEARS and the latest bottle of which is on the list) I would have started with the generic CVS brand sooner.

  17. Jennifer says:

    I have 3 small children so of course I have 6 bottles total that were recalled. 4 childrens motrin and 2 infants tylenol. Just wanted to give all the moms out there the heads up about some disturbing info I found out. WALMART HAS TAKEN THE RECALLED MEDICINE ON THE SHELF AND THEY ARE ON HOLD WAITING FOR NEW LABELS AND PACKAGING. So scary that they care more about losing money than doing the right thing and keeping our children safe. So I would advise everyone to be cautious about there medicine purchases at walmart.

    • Cate says:

      I would like to know more about this. Do you have a link to an article or source?

    • Ashley says:

      I cannot believe someone would GIVE them new labels and packaging for the recalled product! That should be illegal!

  18. Melinda says:

    This is extremely scary for me. My 3 year old has leukemia and what is advised when she starts running a fever “CHILDRENS TYLENOL” I thank God that the one she had was a syrup and I checked the lot number, it said it wasn’t on the recall list. I’m wondering if the generic brands are ok, I have a cvs motrin. I checked online, didn’t see anything about generic so I’m assuming it’s fine. It’s hard enough to worry about our kids getting sick, but when they have another condition like cancer, that’s a whole different story. Well I’m somewhat relieved, just hope they watch what their doing.

  19. Jocelyn says:

    Three times over the last ten days my 13 month old daughter woke up in the middle of the night with horrible stomach pains. She was screaming and straightening her legs. I was so scared the first night that I called the on-call doctor and was in the car, ready to take her to the hospital, when the pain finally passed. The doctor thought it was gas pains brought on by some new food. It happened twice again, and as I started to look for commonalities in what we had given her, the only thing I could find in common across the three episodes was that those were the three nights we gave her motrin for teething pain. I had just thrown the motrin out the day before I heard about the re-call. Now, I’ve dug it out of the trash and am about to send it to the FDA. I am SO ANGRY. I read today on CNN’s website that some sort of chemical used on wooden mallets used during packaging might have gotten into the medicine, which means that I may have inadvertently poisoned my daughter by giving her this medicine. Please keep me posted on what else is learned, or if anyone has any ideas of where to send my contaminated medicine for testing (since I do NOT trust the company to do so) please let me know that, too. Thanks. I also encourage every one who has had a similar experience to report it to the FDA…we need to get this poison off the shelves and quickly.

    • Cate says:

      That is wooden PALLETS – not mallets.

      Exactly how close are the hopper feeds to the end product in which the pallets “are used to transport and store packaging materials”?

      This is a simple duh on the arrangement of the producing environment. Isn’t it? Or am I giving them too much credit?

  20. archmomm says:

    Hi worried moms with sick kids. I have 2 bottles that I have been giving to my 3 year old since December– she isn’t sick now and I don’t think she acted strange or had stomach trouble while she was on med. (although it seemed to work better than infant drops had) We dose her regularly as a matter of habit because she habitually runs high fevers. I know Im always super worried when my child is sick and I just want to give you some piece of mind– my kid, who has been taking the recalled stuff seems fine. Also my bottles don’t look too funky.

    • archmomm says:

      That said– I would also like to have mine independently tested. With Tylenol especially , and od can be very bad news indeed.

      • Amy says:

        If your daughter had been poisoned, you’d know it by now.

        Not that I’m equating dogs and kids in any way, but we went through a suspected Tylenol overdose with my dog a few years ago. There’s an antidote that can be given, but by the time they’re symptomatic (for liver failure as a result of the overdose) it’s too late.

        Symptoms (in dogs, anyway) begin 12 – 24 hours after the overdose.

        Of course you should check with your doctor if you’ve been giving it to her and you’re concerned, but I think if she hasn’t had any in the last 24 hours and she’s ok, she’s probably fine.

        (I’m not a doctor, I just play one on the internet).

        (If anyone cares about my dog – we came home to find the Tylenol all over the floor, had no idea how much she’d ingested, so we went to the ER vet and they pumped her stomach, which was the middle of the road option between “do nothing, and if she starts liver failure it’s too late” and “the uber-expensive Tylenol antidote.” They didn’t find any Tylenol when they pumped her stomach, and 9 years later, she’s snoring away on my floor. But I sure learned more than anyone wants to know about Tylenol overdoses that night!).

  21. What is annoying is that the site identified recalled items by NDC number, which appears only on the box. Once I’ve opened the tylenol, I don’t usually keep the box around. Now I (compulsively) feel the need to dump the rest of this bottle, even though the kids have used it without adverse effect. Grrr.

    • Cate says:

      You can find the NDC on the front label on each bottle toward the top right hand side…in little bitty letters and numbers.

  22. Katie says:

    Just to share with others, since our bottle of infant tylenol was also on the list, I did find where you can request a refund or coupon for a new bottle https://www.mcneilproductrecall.com/page.jhtml?id=/include/replacement_coupon.inc I personally went for the refund.

  23. […] of children’s pain reliever in the last few months.  Parenting blogger Susan Nieber of Toddler Planet, did too.   Those 46 official complaints were likely just the tip of the iceberg.  The FDA is […]

  24. Patricia says:

    Susan, may I please post this link to Facebook? Several of my friends there have young children and definitely need to know about this if they don’t already.

    (I know of your blog because of our mutual friendship with Marty. I have been impressed, moved and amazed by your writings.)

  25. marty says:

    Dang, Susan. You are on the ball.

    You know how I feel about J&J already, so I’ll just keep my mouth shut. Except to remind the internet that I think J&J are a bunch of jackholes. Which isn’t really keeping my mouth shut, now is it?

  26. […] that was recalled.  Click this link; they’ve added it since I posted about the tylenol and motrin recall earlier in the week.  You’ll need your bottles, of course — which might be difficult […]

  27. ana says:

    my daughter has a fever,is throwing up and really fuzzy what can i give her if these medicines are on recall.By the way my daughter 13months had an ear infection about a month ago i gave her motrin and the antibiotic the doctor prescribed her and the following day she had some kind of rash that i thought was chicken pox doc.said it was nothing?you think motrin couldve caused this?

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