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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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'Where Is My Excedrin?'

Headache Sufferers Hang On, With Some Paying Sky-High Prices Online and Others Concocting Their Own Remedies
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 17, 2012 -- The Excedrin recall in January was a big headache, and not just for its manufacturer. Since then, customers loyal to the brand have been searching high and low for the product -- and anxiously awaiting its return.

Now, there's light at the end of the tunnel. Excedrin Migraine is due back on store shelves by early October, says Milicent Brooks of Novartis, its producer. Other products involved in the recall will roll out after that.

That's not a moment too soon for headache sufferers like Katie Brooke, 25, a restaurant manager in Orlando. Like legions of other headache sufferers, she was dismayed to find the store shelves empty of the headache remedy when she needed to replenish her supply in February.

"Months went by, and I thought, 'Where is my Excedrin?'" she says.

Novartis had recalled it voluntarily, along with Bufferin, Gas-X, and No-Doz, because the products may have contained stray tablets from other Novartis products or from painkillers produced at the same plant. The recall followed a report from the FDA about production and other practices at the plant.

Willing to Pay Huge Prices

To cope with the Excedrin recall, some users have turned to buying it online from second-hand sources. This week, for instance, an independent seller on Amazon offered 100 tablets of Excedrin Migraine for $175.50, compared to a typical pre-recall cost of less than $10.

Brooke won't buy online, but instead has turned to another migraine remedy from the drugstore. She finds it does not work as well, even though it contains exactly the same ingredients. She supplements it with Mountain Dew, which is caffeinated.

Her new migraine medicine, from Walgreens, takes about 30 to 60 minutes to work, she says. "With Excedrin, it worked within 20 minutes."

Could Excedrin really be that much different than numerous other remedies, some with the exact same active ingredients in exactly the same dose?

WebMD turned to headache and pharmacy experts to find out.

Generics vs. Excedrin Migraine

"There is not really any reason to believe the formulation of the generic versions are any different than that of Excedrin Migraine," says Andrew Charles, MD, professor of neurology and director of the University of California at Los Angeles Headache Research and Treatment Program.

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