If you've noticed empty shelves at your local pharmacy, it's not just due to high demand. Recalls and shortages are forcing consumers to find alternatives for certain medications, including one of the leading over-the-counter pain relievers.
If that's giving you a headache, you're not alone. Excedrin, one of the leading pain relievers, is just one of a handful of medications missing from store shelves. That's caused people to look for other options.
"When I'm doing the shopping, I'll look for a store brand," Reed Grace said.
In addition to Excedrin, Novartis Consumer Health has also recalled NoDoz and Gas-X Prevention. The company says packages might contain other pills or chipped and broken tablets. You'll also have a difficult time finding other company products, such as Theraflu, because of other issues.
"The plant in Lincoln, Nebraska, shut down. They voluntarily shut down the plant in December of 2011 and with all their items that's basically the issue," Lewis Drug Category Manager Troy Claussen said.
Claussen buys over-the-counter medications for Lewis Drug. He says Prevacid is another drug that's difficult to come by. It's on store shelves today but might not be tomorrow.
"Prevacid is on allocation right now. They're hoping by June, July or August it will be back to full production," Claussen said.
You'll also still have problems finding many popular Johnson & Johnson products, such as Tylenol, because of a series of recalls.
"Every once in a while there are recalls, but as far as the Johnson & Johnson and Novartis, I've never seen this before," Claussen said.
That's why Claussen recommends trying out store brands instead and packing a little patience. That's exactly what Grace is doing. But he still understands the pain some are going through as they switch away from their favorite pain reliever.
"I think it's unfortunate. Alarming, no, but unfortunate," Grace said.
Claussen says there's no word yet on when Excedrin will be back on store shelves.