top of page

Opinion: Opening bubble OTC packets

Remember the product tampering deaths from the early 1980s? Someone put potassium cyanide in acetaminophen capsules and replaced them on the store shelf. The Chicago Tylenol Murders were a series of poisoning deaths resulting from drug tampering in the Chicago metropolitan area in 1982.

The victims had all taken Tylenol-branded acetaminophen capsules that had been laced with poison. Seven people died because some evil idiot had too much time on his hands.

According to Wikipedia no suspect was ever charged or convicted of the poisonings.

New York City resident James William Lewis was convicted of extortion for sending a letter to Johnson & Johnson that took credit for the deaths and demanded $1 million to stop them, but evidence tying him to the actual poisoning never emerged it said.

The article goes on to praise J&J for its handling of the crisis. It isn’t known how many lives were saved due to its immediate recall of one of its flagship products. Since that time companies have developed protocols to include public education and the packaging of products sold as an over-the-counter medication.

My dear mother that died in 1990 often complained that the medicine she took to battle arthritis came in containers that were tricky to operate. Many people who suffer from the disease have trouble with and pain in their hands. Between the childproof caps and the anti-tampering mechanisms she encountered bottles with caps that were difficult to open. Some of these procedures are still in place today. If we fast-forward to today we find her daughter suffering from the same type of conditions facing the same challenges.

Specifically, the day and night capsules used for battling winter colds come in bubble-shaped individual dose containers. I can’t help but believe that this type of packaging is far more expensive than just putting the medicine in a bottle.

Samples of pills given to doctors by pharmaceutical companies are great. They give patients the opportunity to try a new medication without having to pay for it. Many of these medications are packaged in plastic bubbles as well.

It is extremely annoying to need to take scissors to these packages. As for the childproof caps, it takes a kid to get them open.

Pharmacies have made the job of opening prescription medicines easier by either packing them in containers with an easy to remove cap or in some cases include a pill bottle with a lid that can be flipped over to become a simple screw-off top.

As for the other bubble topped OTC medicines, keep a pair of scissors nearby.

At least scissors have become less expensive since my mother’s time. She always had one good pair of sewing sheers that we used under penalty of death. Something about cutting paper with scissors used for cutting cloth had an adverse effect on the tool. Never being a seamstress I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

She loved her old Singer manual sewing machine. Every time anyone other than her or the experts at the Singer store tried to use it, it went haywire. My father wanted to buy her an electric sewing machine but she refused to give up her second-hand treadle machine. She said it sewed as fast as she could think.

In high school, I took a two-semester home economics class. The only reason I took the class was to placate my father who was sure I would never land a husband if I couldn’t cook and sew. To this day I am not much of a cook. What I do in the kitchen should be classified as fixing food, not cooking.

Thank goodness for that because if I were a fabulous cook Fred and I would each weigh 300 pounds.

As for sewing I learned how to use a sewing machine but have not used that skill in decades. In the sewing class, we had to make a skirt and a pillow.

Home Economics 1 was typically a freshman class so my classmates were all two years behind me in school. In my arrogance, I thought a mere pillow was beneath my upperclassman dignity. I selected the pattern for a Raggedy Ann doll instead. My sewing teacher Carol Dawn Person informed me she would have to flunk me if I didn’t finish it. I used embroidery to create the small heart on the doll’s chest along with her easily recognizable face.

The class teaching assistant, Carolyn Wright, and I had been in Girl Scouts together. I bought the materials and she made the clothes for the doll. I got an A on the project. Ann was beautiful with long red yarn for hair. I gave the doll to the newborn daughter of a friend. I should have bought diapers for the kid and kept the doll.

Long days and pleasant nights, have a good weekend.

• • •

Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.

bottom of page