- Production of two of the most frequently used Excedrin migraine relief medications has been temporarily halted.
- There aren’t expected to be any safety concerns or issues with long-term availability, but there may be shortages of Excedrin Migraine and Excedrin Extra Strength.
- Experts say people who get migraine headaches may want to talk with a healthcare provider about treatment alternatives.
- Experts add the shortages might not be such a bad thing, as using a particular medication too frequently can lead to an increase in headaches.
Excedrin migraine medications are some of the most commonly used drugs to treat migraine headaches.
However, people who suffer from the intense, painful headaches may have to try new treatments for a bit.
Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has temporarily halted production of Excedrin Migraine and Excedrin Extra Strength, according to multiple reports.
The company confirmed to Healthline that it is “experiencing a temporary supply issue” that affects the caplet and geltab forms of the two products.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this stock issue may cause to consumers. Please be assured we are working hard to resolve the issue so we can restore supply as quickly as possible,” a GSK spokesperson said.
It isn’t clear how extensive or long lasting the supply issue will be, but it underlines the importance of these over-the-counter medications to people who get migraine headaches — and, perhaps, the danger in relying too heavily on one particular medication.
Experts say a potential temporary shortage might have a silver lining since using a particular medication too frequently can lead to an increase in headaches.
If Excedrin supplies do run out at your local store, there are other treatment options that can be discussed with a healthcare provider.
“All three of the ingredients in these medications are available separately, and there are times when a doctor may actually recommend one or two of the ingredients but not all three,” Dr. Thomas Berk, who specializes in headaches at NYU Langone Health in New York, told Healthline.
Excedrin Migraine contains the pain reliever acetaminophen, the anti-inflammatory aspirin, and caffeine.
“There are many over-the-counter and prescription medications used for migraine and other headaches that your doctor may recommend as well,” Berk said.
He noted that some, such as triptans, which affect chemicals in the brain, generally require a prescription. But there are other options for treating migraine out there.
“It’s very important to understand that although Excedrin products contain some of the most common medications used for migraine, many other options still exist,” Berk said.
He added that “in general, most doctors will recommend not relying too heavily on one treatment option as this can sometimes lead to an increase in the frequency of migraine attacks.”
This temporary pause in production may provide an opportunity for people who get migraine headaches.
“For people using Excedrin to relieve recurring migraine attacks, this news may be concerning. But what sounds scary, could actually be the ticket to reducing the frequency of your migraine attacks,” the American Migraine Foundation (AMF) wrote in a statement.
The organization said that’s because taking migraine medications too often can cause a “medication overuse headache,” which is a headache that is caused or worsened by taking headache medication too frequently.
“Overstimulating the brain pathways involved in reducing pain can create a dependence on medication,” the AMF said. “Not only does overuse make the medication less effective over time, it also causes pain between attacks and may trigger more frequent attacks. Overuse may even have a hand in progressing the disease from episodic to chronic.”
The AMF recommends talking with a headache specialist about alternative treatments if you rely on Excedrin products for migraine relief.
When will Excedrin be back, and is it safe?
There aren’t any reports that Excedrin products currently on shelves are unsafe or that there will be long-term concerns over their safety or availability.
While GSK didn’t go into detail with Healthline, the AMF said in its statement that the production issues were tied to resolving “an inconsistency in how the ingredients are weighed” and that there are no safety risks associated with either product.
There are always concerns when a mass-marketed product is halted due to inconsistencies, (but) once this issue is fixed, theoretically there should be no long term concern,” Berk said.
Until then, some people may have to try something new.
“We don’t know exact numbers, but Excedrin products are some of the most frequently used medications for migraine, and migraine is the third most common disease worldwide according to the World Health Organization,” Berk said.