Relief is on the way for millions of migraine sufferers who say Excedrin is the only pain reliever that works for them.
Novartis (NYSE:NVS) says production of Excedrin has resumed, six months after a voluntary recall of its over-the-counter pain relievers left store shelves empty and caused wildly inflated prices for Excedrin products that are still available.
“We’re excited to announce to our loyal Excedrin fans that we have resumed production of Excedrin, and that Excedrin Migraine will be our first product to return to the market. We expect the product to begin appearing on store shelves in October. And we are working diligently to get Excedrin Extra Strength back to store shelves as soon as possible,” the company said on its Facebook page.
Within hours, thousands of Excedrin fans had “liked” the post and left comments such as these:
“Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to a day pain-free. Can’t come soon enough!”
“Thank you for bringing that Excedrin migraine back only thing on market that really worked for me and my family.”
“Please hurry my head hurts.”
In January, Novartis recalled all lots of select bottle sizes of Excedrin with expiration dates of December 20, 2014 or earlier, because the bottles may contain broken or chipped tablets, or stray tablets, capsules or caplets from other products.
The recall soon led to shortages and desperate consumers went online to buy Excedrin products, some paying hundreds of dollars for a bottle that would ordinarily cost $8.
Today a package of Excedrin Migraine Pain Relief Tablets is being offered on Amazon.com for $124.95. A bottle of Excedrin Extra Strength is available for $125.
Recalled Brands Losing Market Share
Rather than pay such high prices, some consumers tried other products and liked them.
“Sorry, don’t need you any more. Discovered that Equate is the same thing and a fraction of the cost. Too bad for you,” wrote one follower on the Excedrin Facebook page.
Recalls and the poor economy have caused many consumers to drop their allegiance to established over-the-counter (OTC) brands, according to a study released this week by Kline & Company. The research and consulting firm said recalls of Excedrin, Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl and Sudafed have left consumers with fewer branded choices, particularly in the pain relief category.
“The impact and profound magnitude of ongoing economic uncertainty is borne out by more than half of respondents in Kline’s survey disclosing that they’ve changed how they purchase OTC drugs. Specifically, nearly a quarter of those surveyed choose private-label OTC drugs whenever possible because of their perceived cost advantage,” said Laura Mahecha, Kline’s Healthcare Industry Manager.
Sales of private-label adult acetaminophen were up 14% over 2010, according to Kline, as a result of Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol being out-of-stock for extended periods in 2010 and 2011. Competing brands such as Advil (Pfizer), Aleve (Bayer), and Bayer Aspirin (Bayer) also enjoyed substantial sales increases.
“The analysis suggests that consumers, challenged by the recession and the fragility of brand loyalty, have been able to replace the recalled brands adequately over the past two years,” said Mahecha. “Johnson & Johnson will need to invest heavily in brand marketing and even after doing so it may take several years to regain a fraction of the (Tylenol) brand’s previous sales and market shares.”