Excedrin set to return after 10-month hiatus

John Milligan

For migraine sufferers, the pain is almost over. After a 10-month absence from stores, Excedrin Migraine is making its way back to shelves.

The Excedrin brand was voluntarily recalled back in January by manufacturer Novartis after stray and cracked tablets were found in some Excedrin bottles. Through cooperation with the FDA, Novartis shut down its Lincoln, Neb. manufacturing plant to assess the problem.

Now that the problem is resolved, Excedrin Migraine is set to ship to stores Oct. 15, with Excedrin Extra Strength due out at the beginning of next year.

Adrian Bocciarelli, pharmacist at Wal-Mart on Route 59, said he didn’t realize how much people missed the over-the-counter headache medication.

“I was surprised how many people are using Excedrin,” Bocciarelli said. “It’s one of those things where you really don’t know how many people use it until it’s gone and they’re asking for it.”

The Excedrin brand certainly has its share of followers. The headache medicine’s official Facebook page has nearly 290,000 “Likes” in the past year and a half alone, proving brand loyalty carries a lot of weight.

But Bocciarelli said, even though drug recalls occasionally happen, Excedrin’s abrupt marketplace disappearance left many scrambling for a substitute. So for those who haven’t been dipping into a bunker filled with a ten-month supply of Excedrin, there are alternatives to help cope with migraines and chronic pain.

Brian Basco, pharmacist at Drug Mart on Route 59, said Excedrin isn’t the only name in headache relief — several generic medications boast the same active ingredients as the brand-name pain reliever.

“People have been looking for brand name Excedrin for a while,” Basco said. “The problem is, we actually have a generic store brand but people aren’t familiar with the ingredients.

“It’s a combination of acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol, as well as aspirin and caffeine. So they don’t know exactly what to look for, but there are generic options available if they are interested in getting a similar product.”

Kent State’s DeWeese Health Center stocks one such generic substitute. Chief Pharmacist Jim Hostler said he thinks the acetaminophen/aspirin/caffeine combination works a little better than regular pain killers, but the health center wasn’t affected by the recall because it stocks several generic brands.

But for some, extolling the benefits of buying generic substitutes (lower cost and availability to name a few) over a trusted brand name is akin to suggesting die-hard Coke fans buy generic cola — It’s just not the same.

“I tried the alternative generic brands and they just don’t work. I know it’s supposed to be the ‘same ingredients’ but my body and head says differently,” wrote Suhammad Salman in a post on Excedrin’s Facebook page. “Thank God I found an old bottle in my parents’ cabinet, or I would have been a lot more angry, recall or not it works. Get this back in already!”

Contact John Milligan at [email protected].