The Real Reason Over-The-Counter Medications Have Foil Seals

If you buy a bottle of cough medicine at the pharmacy, it most likely has a foil seal underneath the plastic cap. And it is probable that any allergy package or pills you purchase come with a foil seal as well. In fact, most anything sold that falls under the label of over-the-counter medicine comes covered with a foil seal. But have you ever wondered why that is?

As it turns out, it wasn't a random choice that all drug manufactures decided to seal their product with a thin piece of foil. The aluminum seal we see under the caps and packaging of drugs is what can be defined as tamper-resistant packaging. And according to the FDA, requirements for this type of covering were made for almost all over-the-counter medicines in 1982.

Unfortunately, this requirement was only made after an unlikely and tragic happening. As stated by CNN, in 1982, the suburbs around Chicago were baffled by the sudden and unexplained deaths of five of their residents. On September 29, 1982, three people suddenly and without reason passed away. Hours later, two relatives of one of the victims instantly died while at their newly deceased family member's house. When emergency personnel arrived, they quarantined the house and called in a nurse, Helen Jensen, to look for clues. What she found was a bottle of opened Tylenol and a receipt from where it was purchased earlier that morning in the trash. "It's got to be the Tylenol," recalled Jensen. Thinking, "Something's wrong with the Tylenol."

Take care to notice if the seal has been tampered with

Once it was established that the Tylenol pills that all the victims had taken from different bottles had been laced with cyanide, police immediately had the drug manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, do a nationwide recall of all bottles of Tylenol, reports Label-aire. The incident costs the company over $100 million dollars in lost sales. And after the U.S. congress found out about the tragedy, they almost immediately passed a law that made tampering with consumer goods a federal offense. 

Today, the tamperproof foil seals mandated by the FDA we see on almost all over-the-counter drugs are there because of senseless murders that were carried out with poison in 1982. And according to CNN, the mystery over which individual or group was responsible for lacing the Tylenol capsules with cyanide was never solved. 

As shared by the EMSA, if you have purchased an over-the-counter drug and notice a break in the foil seal, then do not use the product! Take it back to where you purchased it and inform the sellers of the broken tamperproof packaging. The foil seals are there to prevent another tragic loss of lives. So take care to notice them before you use the drugs they are protecting.