Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — No Excedrin Migraine has been available since January.
That’s when Novartis recalled the popular product, along with Bufferin, No-Doz, and Gas-X because of quality control issues at the drug maker’s Nebraska plant.
“Novartis, the manufacturer of Excedrin, has opted to completely shut down production to aid in more quickly updating some of their facilities,” explains Paula Horn at the Allegheny General Hospital pharmacy.
“When someone finds something that works, and then they’re not able to get it, it can be a real problem,” says Dr. Andrea Synowiec, a neurologist at Allegheny General Hospital.
Some patients are desperate, paying anywhere from $100 to $300 on Amazon.
“For patients that find that this is what relieves their headache, they’re willing to pay the extra amount of money to get the headache relief and to be able to function daily,” says Horn.
She doesn’t recommend this, because how well the medicine has been stored and how well it might work can’t be verified.
Other people have switched to a generic product available at most pharmacies or they’ve used this opportunity to try prescription medicine.
There’s no indication when products will be back on the shelf or if another plant will take over production. In the meantime, it is possible to make substitutions.
“Some patients seem to be having some success with just taking the components of Excedrin Migraine separately, so caffeine, plus aspirin, plus Tylenol,” says Dr. Synowiec.
The daily dose would be 500 milligrams of aspirin, 500 milligrams of acetaminophen, and 130 milligrams of caffeine — all available over-the-counter.
Unfortunately, not everyone responds the same way to the substitutions like they do with the medicine they can’t get.