Novartis eyes relief for OTC headaches

Novartis ($NVS) has put one over-the-counter product back on its ship list. The company says Excedrin Migraine, recalled back in January, is in line for distribution next week. If the product shows up on store shelves at the end of the month as anticipated, it will be a boon to sufferers who've been hunting for substitutes--or buying Excedrin Migraine at premium prices on eBay.

It will also mark the end of at least one shortage that turned out to be painful for Novartis. The company stopped production at a plant in Lincoln, NE, early this year, after broken tablets ended up in drug containers--and stray prescription painkillers showed up in over-the-counter bottles. Novartis Consumer Health recalled a basket full of products and rolled up its sleeves to fix the plant's problems.

The company has been restarting production, line-by-line, with plans to re-introduce the recalled products. Excedrin Migraine, which has a cult following among migraine patients, is among the first. Novartis "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," the company said in a statement (as quoted by American News Report). Regular old Excedrin Extra Strength will ship in January, the company said.

The Lincoln plant also made a line-up of cold and flu drugs--Triaminic and Theraflu products--plus the Bufferin pain reliever, the Benefiber and Gas-X Prevention supplements, the stomach drug Maalox, the antifungal remedy Lamisil and wakefulness aid NoDoz. Animal health products, including the popular parasite-fighter Sentinel, are also among its charges. No word yet on when, specifically, these products will be back on the market.

Other Novartis units have been struggling with production issues themselves. The FDA issued a warning letter about "significant violations" at plants in Colorado and North Carolina, while Sandoz, the company's generics unit, had to suspend production a a plant in Canada. Facilities in Italy and Austria have also run into problems.

- read the American News story

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