Chattem Recalls Icy Hot Products

Chattem Inc. has initiated a voluntary nationwide recall of its Icy Hot Heat Therapy products, including consumer "samples" that were included on a limited promotional basis in cartons of its 3 oz. Aspercreme product. The recall reportedly is in response to consumer reports of first, second and third degree burns as well as skin irritation resulting from consumer use or possible misuse of these products.

The recall includes the following Icy Hot Heat Therapy products: Icy Hot Heat Therapy Air Activated Heat- Back; Icy Hot Heat Therapy Air Activated Heat- Arm, Neck and Leg; and Icy Hot Heat Therapy Air Activated Heat- Arm, Neck, and Leg single consumer use "samples" included on a limited promotional basis in cartons of 3 oz. Aspercreme Pain Relieving Crème.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Chattem have instructed consumers to discontinue use of the products listed above. In addition, full refunds are being issued by Chattem. The FDA is asking consumers to report adverse reactions from the use of the above products.

In mid-2007, eye brows were raised surrounding the death of an athlete from the overuse of Bengay. The athlete reportedly died of methyl salicylate, the active ingredient also formulated into the Icy Hot products. Most muscle-relieving products contain 15% methyl salicylate; however, "ultra strength" versions can contain up to 30% of the ingredient.

Both Bengay and Icy Hot direct consumers to only use the product 3-4 times a day and to discontinue use after seven days and if side affects arise. Which raises the question: Are the side affects occurring through consumer misuse or should the safety of methyl salicylate be questioned? In the case of Bengay, it was clear that the product was misused. In the case of Icy Hot, further research is needed, and the industry will have to wait to see how the issue resolves.

-Katie Schaefer, C&T magazine

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