Consumers, beware: The latest voluntary recall by Novartis is really alarming.

The recall, announced Sunday, includes certain bottles of Excedrin, NoDoz, Bufferin and Gas-X due to concerns that the bottles could contain pills from other medicines.  

Specific packages involved in the recall include Excedrin and NoDoz with expiration dates of Dec. 20, 2014, or earlier, and packages of Bufferin and Gas-X with expiration dates of Dec. 20, 2013, or earlier.

Novartis has voluntarily suspended operations and shipments from its Lincoln, Neb., plant in order to deal with the problem, and the Consumer Health unit of the company will take a one-time charge of approximately $120 million relating to the recalls and improvements at the facility.

Company officials became aware of the problem during an internal review, which found broken and chipped pills and inconsistent packaging practices.  A spokesperson said the company wanted to protect customers from taking any pills they might be allergic to.

The possibility that several over-the-counter medicines may contain stray pills from other medications is really amazing.

Unknowingly ingesting the wrong medication can have serious side effects or interact negatively with other drugs a person may be taking.  

Meanwhile, chipped or broken pills could lead to incorrect dosing and render the medication less effective.

What a lot of folks out there don’t realize is that, like prescription pills, over-the-counter medications are real medical products that should be handled with care.  OTC medications can contain chemicals, which, if taken inappropriately, can send you to the emergency room.

To have this company come out and say they have ‘manufacturing problems’ is inconceivable to me.

One of the things we expect from drug-manufacturing companies, like Novartis, is that the standard of practice is of the highest degree.

My hope is that Novartis and other pharmaceutical companies will learn from their mistakes and create protocols that give the public assurance their medications are genuine, safe and properly packaged.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny's work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit AskDrManny.com for more.