Novartis Recall Leads to Widespread Medication Shortage

Posted on July 11, 2012

When most consumers receive information pertaining to a recall, they likely read through the safety warning to confirm that the product isn’t in their possession and then move on with their lives.  In a perfect world, a manufacturer would then correct the defect which led to the recall and the problem would be resolved.  However, a new report illustrates the impact that recalls can have on the populace for years to come.

In January of this year, Novartis was forced to recall a variety of medications because of a danger posed by chipped pills and the possibility that each medicine might contain a stray pill from a separate drug line.  This defect could have led patients to take a dosage that was either too small or too large, thus creating a litany of potential health hazards.  Affected products included NoDoz, Gas-X, Bufferin, and the popular headache medication known as Excedrin.

Well, it’s now been six months since that recall, and consumers across the country are still having trouble buying the recalled medication from store shelves.  Novartis explains the delay as a result of thorough quality inspection put in place to ensure that the problem doesn’t happen again.  This line-by-line safety check means that the popular drugs described above won’t be popping up in stores until later this year.

This unfortunate news has many consumers worried.  A neurologist from Allegheny General Hospital warns that people prefer to stick with a medication that they know to work.  Some consumers are simply hesitant to try other drugs.  Although generic drugs might be readily available, according to a report from ABC News, they don’t work for everyone.

The lack of options has led many people to turn to a unique outlet to get their pain medication:  eBay.  Demand has gotten so high that a container with 50 tablets has gone for as high as $60, according to that same ABC News report.  One woman has spent $500 in her bid to get as much of the product as possible while there’s a short supply.

This method of purchase is problematic, though, as eBay isn’t as closely regulated as the pharmacies and retailers that ordinarily stock the medication.  When you purchase an item from eBay, there’s really no way to tell if it’s counterfeit, if some enterprising individual has diluted the product, or even if you’re purchasing an item from a lot that was recalled in the first place.  Doctors are thus warning consumers not to purchase medication from online retailers.

Perhaps the best thing that people can do is consult a doctor should they experience headaches or other conditions that these medications help with.  It’s better to be careful than to compromise your safety.

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