In 1982, a shocking series of poisonings occurred in the Chicago area, claiming the lives of seven people. The victims had all ingested Tylenol capsules laced with potassium cyanide, a deadly substance commonly used to kill insects. The tragic event sent shockwaves throughout the nation and led to a major overhaul of safety measures in the pharmaceutical industry, including the introduction of foil seals on medicine bottles.
Foil seals, now a common sight on over-the-counter and prescription medicine bottles, serve as a crucial safety measure to prevent tampering and ensure the integrity of the medication. Before the 1982 poisonings, bottles were sealed with cotton or a simple plastic cap, making it relatively easy for someone with malicious intent to tamper with the contents. In response to the tragic events, Johnson & Johnson, the company that produces Tylenol, quickly recalled millions of bottles from the market and introduced new tamper-resistant packaging that included foil seals and other safety features.
The incident had a lasting impact on the entire industry, leading to the adoption of stricter safety measures across the board. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also enacted new regulations that made tamper-resistant packaging mandatory for all over-the-counter medications. This requirement was expanded to include other consumer products, such as mouthwash and contact lens solutions.
Today, the foil seals on medicine bottles are a constant reminder of the importance of safety and vigilance in the pharmaceutical industry. The tragic events of 1982 forced companies to reevaluate their packaging and implement new measures to protect consumers, ultimately making the products we use daily safer for everyone.
History.com. (2018). The Tylenol Murders. [online] Available at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/tylenol-murders-begin [Accessed 5 Apr. 2023].
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). (n.d.). Tamper-Resistant Packaging Requirements. [online] Available at: https://www.cpsc.gov/Regulations-Laws–Standards/Statutes/Poison-Prevention-Packaging-Act [Accessed 5 Apr. 2023].