Excedrin Returning to Store Shelves Next Week

Excedrin headache number 2012 is about to end for some fans of the popular over-the-counter pain reliever.

Ten months after a voluntary recall left consumers scrambling for a substitute medication, Novartis (NYSE: NVS) says it will start shipping Excedrin Migraine to stores beginning the week of October 15.

But for those who prefer Excedrin’s Extra Strength formula, the wait in going to be a little bit longer. The company says it doesn’t expect to have that product back on the market until the beginning of next year.

In a statement, Novartis said it “is pleased to announce that Excedrin Migraine will ship to stores the week of October 15 and begin to appear on store shelves as soon as the end of October.  We anticipate that Excedrin Extra Strength will ship to stores in January 2013.”

Novartis is restarting production at its Lincoln, Nebraska, manufacturing facility on a line-by-line, product-by-product basis. The company shut the plant down in January after discovering that bottles of Excedrin contained stray tablets from other Novartis products, or from painkillers produced at the same plant.

Since then, as supplies of Excedrin started to dwindle, loyal customers began paying exorbitant prices for a product they swear by. A recent search of internet sites found mostly generic substitutes with only a few sellers offering genuine Excedrin – at highly inflated prices.

On amazon.com, a bottle of Excedrin Tension Headache 100 caplets costs $74.99. Bottles of 100 bi-layer Back & Body Extra Strength caplets will set you back $89.99. If you look on eBay, a 60 tablet bottle of Excedrin Pain Reliever from Japan seems like a bargain at $51.01.

If you don’t mind using Excedrin from the recalled batch of medicine, four packages of Extra Strength with two tablets each can be purchased for just under ten dollars. Before the recall, you could buy a 100 tablet bottle for the same price.

In contrast, a generic versions of Excedrin Migraine with the same ingredients (250 milligrams of acetaminophen, 250 mg of aspirin, and 65 mg of caffeine) can be found for less than two dollars.

Doctors Say Generics Work

Is there really a difference between Excedrin and its generic counterparts?

Experts told WebMD that if the active ingredients are the same, there should be no significant medical difference in how they work.

“There is not really any reason to believe the formulation of the generic versions are any different than that of Excedrin Migraine,” said Andrew Charles, MD, professor of neurology and director of the UCLA Headache Research and Treatment Program.

He attributed the different results that patients are reporting to what’s known as the placebo effect, a phenomenon that occurs when a patient, after receiving a fake pill or inactive substance, reports an improvement in their condition simply because they had the expectation it would be helpful.

“There is a significant amount of placebo response and patient brand loyalty, based in part on their experience and also on marketing,” Charles said.

“”The placebo effect is a real effect,” said Jason Rosenberg, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. “Part of the beneficial effect of the drug is the belief that it does work.”

Still, the idea of a substitute doesn’t sit well with many of the 289,000 who “like” Excedrin on its Facebook page.  On a daily basis, they post about how generic versions don’t seem to work, and can’t wait for the product to become available again.

“I tried the alternative generic brands and they just don’t work, “wrote Suhammad Salman.” I know it’s supposed to be the ‘same ingredients’ but my body and head says differently. Thank God I found an old bottle in my parents’ (medicine) cabinet.”

Catherine Rourke posted that she has “tried every generic formula and other brand and nothing comes close to Excedrin’s potency and effectiveness despite the supposed identical ingredients of other brands.”

“I need some migraine gel caps,” writes Karen Locklear, “and I need them now.”

Authored by: Richard Lenti

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Dorothy Barton

Excedrin Extra Strength works - and it works within 20 minutes! I saw and bought every 2-pack I saw last month in a 7-11. Since then, I have not been able to locate more. I saw Excedrin Migraine at Walgreen. None of the other store brands - Target, Walmart, Walgreen, CVS-worked for me. Hurry, hurry January!

Dorothy Barton

I usually use the Extra Strength Excedrin, but since the Excedrin Migraine is now on the shelves I am using that instead. It is the exact same medication, same ingredients, same dosage. The box labeled “Extra Strength” will be on the shelves some time in January, but in the mean time Excedrin Migraine works the same. I am soooo glad Excedrin is back on the shelves once again. I can’t express how much I missed it. I was taking a headache medicine sold and labeled by a well-known drug store, made up of mostly ibuprophen(sp??), and after awhile, started getting severe cramps in my feet and legs at night, and cramp twinges in my legs during the day. After Excedrin came back and I was able to switch, all that went away and I feel much better. Excedrin to the rescue once again. Welcome back Excedrin. You saved me from more than headaches this time.

I saw Excedrin Migraine in Targets last Tuesday and picked up a small bottle. I normally use Extra Strength but it won’t hit the shelves until February 2013. I compared the ingredients in Excedrin Migraine to an old bottle I had of Excedrin Extra Strength and they are identical: 250mg of aspirin, 250mg of acetominophen (sp?), 60mg caffeine, so I can use the migraine formula in place of extra strength in the mean time without worry. I was thrilled to see it in my local stores again even though I had read it would be on the shelves in late October, early November. I can’t wait until the Extra Strength comes out, even though the two seem to be identical. It is a great feeling to know my fastest and best cure for constant headaches will be back in the stores soon and that Excedrin box I saw this week was the best looking site I had seen for a long, long time. Welcome back Excedrin. It’s been too long.


I like so many others, I tried generic brands to get some relief. The one I settled on I still didn’t like the after affects of dizzy, nauseousness, “feel-like-I-am-in-a-never-ending-tunnel” feeling. The generic did work, but I still refused to take it while I drove. Excedrin Migraine, was and hopefully will still be a wonderful drug. The relief is with in minutes. As child I had a horrible time with headaches. Though my mother - at the time I was about 9 - hated letting me self administer myself, she relented because she knew I was in so much pain. My idea of relief was 4 - 500 mg extra strength Tylenol and then go sleep for 2, 4 even as much as 6 hours. I truly feel for those who are in agony if someone just brushes against them. I had one such migraine that lasted for three (3) straight days. All I could do was lie still in bed and sleep. Since Excedrin is wonderful, because it has been a long time since I have had to sleep off a headache.

I can’t tell you how elated I am to hear Excedrin Extra Strength will start hitting the shelves in January or so of next year. The sooner the better. I have been taking a headache med from a drug store that is heavy on acetominophen (sp?) and I am feeling the effects of too much of that one drug. I never had any side effects from Excedrin and it worked without needing as much. I’ve missed my Excedrin more than words can say. When I see it on a store shelf again, I am going to buy every box and throw a big party to celebrate the best headache medicine finally coming back to us. Hurry up Novartis and get the Extra Strength out to the drug stores and other stores too. We’ve waited too long as it is. We have really missed our Excedrin.


As a pharmacist I wholeheartedly agree with the placebo effect. As a patient who takes amphetamine salts, I wholeheartedly disagree that all generics are the same. Pharmacore brand amphetamine salts make me sick while Revs brand works the best. Yes the active ingredients are the same, but the fillers aren’t.

Dan K

I was at “SAMs Club” today in Manchester, Ct. and Excederine Migraine was on the shelves. Great news, finally.

Ken Thomas

I use Extra Strength Excedrin! It’s the only thing that will take my bad headaches away. Why is the wait until the 1st of the year if they got everything straightened out and thier going to sell the migraine Excedrin now? Don’t Understand! and does the 1st of the year mean Jan. of 2013? Let me know , Thanks, Ken.

Peter Parker

Excedrin Extra Strength vs. Excedrin Migraine…correct me if I’m wrong but the ingredients and ratio of each are the same right? It’s more of a marketing ploy than formula difference. Regardless, get the damn pills back on the shelf already. I’m getting a headache just waiting so long!

Bill Badnaruk

On the topic of “generic” medicines. I am not positive about OTC drugs, but for prescription drugs, the “generic” alternative must share the same composition as the name brand, no ifs ands or buts. So if Pfizer puts a dash of caffeine in one of their medicines, then the generic manufacturer must do the same. Its the only product available in which the generic is the exact same as the name brand. I would assume the OTC medications would be regulated in the same way, but weirder things have happened.