Precautionary warning on Nurofen Plus

Behind the Headlines

Friday August 26 2011

Some packets of Nurofen Plus have been affected

Many newspapers have reported today that some packets of Nurofen Plus have been found to contain the wrong medicine. A warning has been issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). It is advising people to be extra vigilant if taking Nurofen Plus pain relief tablets.

The warning, which the MHRA says is "precautionary" comes after reports that the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel XL has been found within some Nurofen Plus packets. Three defective packs have been found in pharmacies in London, but the affected batches may have been distributed across the UK.

The blister packs of the two different drugs look different, and should be easily spotted. The Seroquel XL 50mg tablets are large and capsule shaped and can be identified by their gold and black packaging; Nurofen Plus tablets are smaller and have silver and black packaging. Also, the packs involved are labeled as 32 tablets per pack.

Investigations are still ongoing to establish the cause of the mix-up.


What do the Seroquel XL tablets look like?

The large capsule-shaped Seroquel XL 50 mg tablets can be identified by their gold and black packaging.


What do Nurofen Plus tablets look like?

The smaller Nurofen Plus tablets can be identified by their silver and black packaging.


What should I do if my packet contains Seroquel XL?

Anyone who finds Seroquel XL in their Nurofen packet, should return them to the pharmacy where they bought them. You can also report this to the MHRA on 020 3080 6574.


What should I do if I think I have accidentally taken Seroquel XL?

Anyone who thinks they have taken these tablets accidentally should speak to their GP.


What is Nurofen Plus?

Nurofen Plus tablets are over-the-counter drugs that can only be obtained by request from a pharmacist. The medicine is used as a painkiller for the short-term treatment of acute, moderate pains which are not relieved by paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin alone. It contains codeine.


What is Seroquel XL?

These tablets are prescription-only. The tablets that have appeared within Nurofen Plus packaging have been 50mg tablets. The medicine is an anti-psychotic used to treat several illnesses such as schizophrenia, mania and bipolar depression.


What are the side effects of taking Seroquel XL?

The more common side effects that are possible after a single dose include dry mouth, feeling light headed or faint, a fast heart rate, drowsiness, blurred vision, headache and some people might get muscle or jaw stiffness. Anyone who thinks they have taken these tablets accidentally should speak to their GP.

This drug may also impair your ability to drive or operate machinery.


What is the MHRA?

The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe.

More detailed information on the batch numbers of the packets of Nurofen plus affected by the alert can be found on the MHRA website.

Edited by NHS Choices

Links to the headlines

Psychosis drugs in Nurofen Plus packs. The Sun, August 26 2011

Thousands of Nurofen Plus packets could contain anti-psychosis drugs. Daily Mirror, August 26 2011

Warning over psychosis drugs in Nurofen packs. The Independent, August 26 2011

Sabotage fear over Nurofen Plus 'mix-up’. The Daily Telegraph, August 26 2011

Alert over nurofen plus drug mix-up. Daily Express, August 26 2011

Pills recalled. Daily Star, August 26 2011

Nurofen Plus warning over mix-up of painkillers and anti-psychotic drugs. The Guardian, August 26 2011

Links to the science

Public warned to be extra vigilant when purchasing and using Nurofen Plus. MHRA, August 26 2011


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