Pill Bottle Cotton

Andy Rooney Looks At Pill Bottle Cotton

A weekly commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney. It was first broadcast Oct. 12, 1986.

I don't know anything offhand that mystifies Americans more than the cotton they put in bottles. Why do they do it? Are you supposed to put the cotton back in once you've taken a pill out?

Look at these bottles of vitamins I bought. Look at all the cotton they got in here. I bought another bottle just like it. Take the cotton out of that one, too. I'll bet I can get all the pills in this bottle into the other bottle -- all but about three or four pills.

This is a bottle of Eli Lilly bicarbonate of soda. I mean, is that much cotton really necessary? I called the Eli Lilly Company in Indianapolis, and they seem like a good, responsible company as far as I know. I wanted to talk to the person in charge of deciding how much cotton to put in a bottle of pills. I learned, among other things, that they don't even use cotton at Eli Lilly. Their cotton is rayon.

This is Maalox for upset stomach. The bottle comes in this box. You take the bottle out of the box, take the cotton out of the bottle; and they'd just used the box and not used the bottle, look at this! All these pills would have fit into the box and they'd have had room for three times as much cotton. It's enough to give you an upset stomach, isn't it?

This is a bottle of Rolaids. It has cotton in it. And this is a giant bottle of Tums. Look! No cotton. Why do you think they decided to go without cotton for Tums? The only thing I can think of is that cotton is more expensive than the ingredients in Tums.

I bought this box of Johnson & Johnson cotton, just to see how they were selling cotton, and look at this! It's mostly paper. You don't run into the cotton till way down here.

Well, that's my report on the cotton in pill bottles.