Consumers turn to eBay for missing McNeil med

Call in Sherlock Holmes. Pepcid Complete has disappeared. As the New York Times reports, consumers are complaining that the consumer drug--made by a joint venture between Merck and the recall-plagued Johnson & Johnson unit McNeil Consumer Healthcare--has mysteriously gone missing from store shelves.

Last August, McNeil recalled 15,000 packages of Pepcid Complete in tropical fruit flavor because of defective containers (McNeil handles manufacturing for the Merck joint venture, the NYT points out). But soon after, consumers began complaining that other flavors not affected by the recall also took flight.

The NYT discovered the brand's website continued to offer a "buy now" link, which actually led to another Pepcid formulation. Pepcid Complete lovers resorted to shopping on eBay, where they bid up to $26 for a 50-count bottle.

The company now says Pepcid Complete will be returning to stores. The dearth of supply wasn't related to the recall last summer, McNeil spokeswoman Bonnie Jacobs told the NYT, and it didn't involve a safety problem. "When it comes to quality, we are evaluating our processes and making improvements at all the plants that manufacture our OTC products," including those made by the joint venture with Merck. "As we do so, some products, such as Pepcid Complete, may occasionally become temporarily unavailable," she wrote.

- read the NYT piece