Six months ago, production problems at a Novartis plant manufacturing over-the-counter, generic, and veterinary drugs prompted FDA action and a recall of common over-the-counter drugs such as Excedrin, No-Doz, and Gas-X. While generic versions of all of these drugs are commonly available, some Excedrin users don’t find them effective and have been clamoring for the original. Novartis isn’t producing any new Excedrin, and prices on eBay are now nearing $1 per tablet.
There’s nothing magic about Excedrin, a combination of acetaminophen, caffeine, and aspirin. But patients who prefer it claim that nothing else helps.
“The pharmacist recommended the store brand, but it made me super sick,” one user told ABC News. “I wasn’t sure if I got sick because the migraine was so advanced and the nausea was part of it, but I took it a few other times after that and it just doesn’t work for me.”
Heading online to score drugs isn’t always necessarily a good idea. Buying secondary-market pharmaceuticals, even sealed over-the-counter ones, carries the risk of counterfeits or tampering.
This problem is bigger than miserable headache sufferers with PayPal accounts, though. The recall and current shortages followed the suspension of production at the company’s plant in Lincoln, Nebraska. Generic drug maker Sandoz is also part of Novartis, and a Sandoz plant in Quebec, Canada shut down some product lines in February for similar reasons. Sandoz had a recall of its own just a few weeks ago, when Introvale birth control pills were found packaged in the wrong order.
Migraine Sufferers Scramble for Relief After Excedrin Recall [ABC] (Warning: link has auto-play video)
Agony of Excedrin recall [New York Post]
What Novartis Did Wrong At Its Consumer Plant [Pharmalot]