Six months after the mass recall that left headache and migraine sufferers at a loss for a cure, Excedrin is still not on the market.
But the call back from Novartis back in January is not stopping sales of the drug on the black market, as Excedrin is up for sale on consumer-to-consumer website eBay for $150 despite the recall.
On Jan. 8, pharmaceutical company Novartis issued a recall for a number of its over-the-counter drugs, namely Excedrin and Bufferin, due to mislabeled and broken pills found at its Nebraska plant.
(Novartis) is taking this action as a precautionary measure, because the products may contain stray tablets, capsules or caplets from other Novartis products, or contain broken or chipped pills, the company said.
But store shelves still do not have any Excedrin, despite a statement from Novartis that said it is working very hard to return products to store shelves and has plans to restart production on a line-by-line, product-by-product basis to prevent further quality issues. Novartis also said it hopes some of the products will become available again in the second half of the year, ABC News reported.
However, many have given up waiting for the drug and have turned to black market websites and eBay to find Excedrin. Recently, one auction of 50 Excedrin tablets went for $60. Another for 100 tablets for $150. All for headache and migraine relief.
Erin Terjesen told ABC she has tried other brands and nothing has worked like Excedrin.
I haven't found another medication that works, and I just kind of try to treat the symptoms, Terjesen told ABC News. I'm not sure what to do now when my headaches come back.
Others like Susan Scranton purchased $500 of the recalled product from eBay when it hit the market, despite many doctors urging not to consume a recalled drug.
These medications are being passed on by private individuals, and there's no control over where that particular medication has been or if there's been tampering, Dr. Charles Flippen of UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine told ABC News.
I didn't really care, Scranton said about the risks. Sometimes, my headaches are so bad and it's the only thing that works for me. It's the only thing that ever helps any of my headaches.
The voluntary recall came after the Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company reported the recall of Excedrin and NoDoz with expirations dates of Dec. 20, 2014 and Bufferin and Gas-X Prevention with a Dec. 20, 2013 expiration.
While the company did not report any adverse health events related to the recall, Novartis said the recall was for precautionary measure and consumers should either destroy or return products that match those described in the recall.
The recall was coordinated with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when reports emerged of broken gelcaps, chipped tablets and inconsistent bottle packaging. The complaints became evident after an internal review of the products and reports from consumers.
Edward Cox of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said a manufacturing plant in Lincoln, Neb., which also makes medications for Endo Pharmaceuticals like Opana and Percocet, was the cause of the problem.
It's possible that tablets from one product may have been retained in the packaging machinery, and then may have carried over into the packaging, Cox said in a statement. This could result in an incorrect pill of one medicine ending up in the bottle of another product.
A spokesperson for Novartis said the voluntary recall was a precaution so that people who may be allergic to the mistaken stray pills do not suffer any serious side effects from taking the mislabeled medication.