Thousands of tubes of Savlon have been pulled from shop shelves due to alleged contamination by animal rights extremists.
Boots, Superdrug and Tesco recalled the antiseptic cream after the Animal Rights Militia claimed it had tampered with 250 products.
An ARM blog says the group carried out the contamination because it believes there are links between Savlon manufacturer Novartis and testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences.
The claim, posted two days ago, says: ‘Over the last five days over 250 tubes and bottles of Novartis’s antiseptic product Savlon have been tampered with in the North of England in stores such as Superdrug, Boots and other well known stores.
‘We don’t want to kill living beings like Novartis, but the side effects and the inevitable hospital stay will give people an idea of what Novartis pays for inside Huntingdon Life Sciences.’
In a statement, Boots said it had been alerted to the alleged contamination by the blog.
‘We want to reassure customers that their safety is our number one priority and therefore we have taken the decision as a precautionary measure to withdraw all Savlon products from our shelves nationwide until further investigations have been carried out,’ it said.
Superdrug was alerted to the incident yesterday and pulled Savlon products from stores.
‘We worked with the police yesterday and took the products off sale yesterday afternoon,’ a spokeswoman said.
Tesco said it had temporarily withdrawn Savlon from sale on the advice of the police.
Novartis said: ‘We have not found any evidence that Savlon has been tampered with, but as a responsible manufacturer of a trustworthy and respected brand, consumer safety is paramount.’
Novartis is advising customers to examine packaging carefully before opening products and not to use anything which looks damaged.
‘Novartis UK has been made aware of an anonymous threat made on a website, alleging that one of our products, Savlon, has been tampered with,’ the statement said.
‘The company takes this matter very seriously and is in close contact with the police, retailers and health authorities.
‘This appears to be part of the long-running campaign by animal rights extremists which adversely affects both Novartis and our consumers.’
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) is co-ordinating the police investigation into the Savlon incident.
An Acpo spokesman said: ‘The Office of the Acpo National Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism is aware of a product tampering claim on an animal rights website.
‘We are developing a co-ordinated police response and investigation, working closely with companies, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and other partner agencies.
‘Our overriding priority is to ensure that members of the public remain safe at all times. We would like to draw people’s attention to all advice given by the MHRA and Novartis UK.’
An MHRA spokesman urged customers to check product packaging and not to use anything which may have been tampered with.
‘We are aware of the allegations on this particular animal rights website but at the moment we have no evidence at this time to suggest that Savlon products have been contaminated,’ he said.
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