Some fatigue, headache, stomach and other pain sufferers may have gotten more than they bargained for if they treated their symptoms with Swiss company Novartis' over-the-counter medicines Excedrin, NoDoz, Bufferin or Gas-X.

Namely, powerful prescription painkillers. Some of Novartis' popular medications may have accidentally been packaged
with narcotics made at the same plant by Endo
Pharmaceuticals, including Percocet,
Endocet, Zydone and Opana.

With the knowledge of the FDA, Novartis issued a voluntary and precautionary recall Sunday of certain lots of medicines with particular expiration dates and bottle sizes due to the possibility they might contain chipped or broken tablets or errant pills with different active ingredients mixed in, according to a press release issued
by Novartis Consumer Health Inc.

Monday, the FDA warned that those active ingredients could include oxycodone, an addictive opiate that is available by prescription only. Opana contains the even more powerful
oxymorphone, about five times more potent than oxycodone.


Information on the affected bottle sizes and expiration dates is available here.

Area stores, including the ShopRite in South Philadelphia's Snyder Plaza, are reportedly pulling the medicines off their shelves already.

While there have been no related adverse events reported, the mix-up could result in consumers taking the incorrect medicine, a higher or lower dose than intended or an unintended ingredient, which could lead to medication interactions, allergic reaction or overdose.

The defects have been traced back to Novartis' Lincoln, Nebraska plant, whose production and shipments are temporarily halted after an internal product review and repeated complaints found broken gelcaps, chipped tablets and "inconsistent bottle packaging line clearance practices," which the company said created potential for a medicine mix-up.

The company plans to gradually resume operations at the facility after improvements are made, though they were unable to say when that might be or estimate the full financial impact of the recall and renovations.

Consumers are asked not to use the medicines listed on the recall site. Those with questions, or who want to contact the company for a refund, can call Novartis' Consumer Relationship Center at 1-888-477-2403.

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