Novartis plant closure contributes to Maalox shortage in Canada

The closing of a Novartis ($NVS) plant in Nebraska may not be the cause of heartburn in Canada but it certainly is contributing to it.

The popular over-the-counter acid relief product Maalox, which was made at the Lincoln, NE, plant, is running out in Canada. A spokesperson for the country's biggest drugstore chain, Shoppers Drug Mart, told CTVNews that some stores are having to post "out of stock" signs. Novartis Canada announced in March that there could be shortages of a number of OTC products and it was unknown when they would be available, CTVNews says.

The closing of the plant has affected everything from opioids to pet medications. It was Novartis' largest OTC manufacturing facility, producing its entire Excedrin line, as well as NoDoz, Bufferin and Gas-X Prevention products. The company had to recall millions of products. But it also made drugs like Percoset for Endo Health Solutions ($ENDP) and as well hypertension drugs for GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK).

The FDA raised serious concerns over manufacturing at the plant, which was closed in December. Among other problems, there was a chance that chipped particles of one drug made it into the bottles of other drugs. Investigators found unclean lines and more than 1,300 consumer complaints that had not been addressed. Originally, remediation at the plant was expected to be completed mid-year, but during an earnings call in April, executives said it is taking longer than expected. The company has shifted production of some products to other facilities but Canadians, and others, may have to turn elsewhere for Maalox.

- here's the CTVNews story

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