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Maalox
July 26, 2013 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Have you noticed that Maalox has been disappearing from store shelves? I am wondering why this is occurring and whether/when it will be stocked again. I have used this product often in the past but have not found it in stores for over a year. Any information would be much appreciated.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Looks like they shut down the manufacturing facility last year. Probably some kind of health concern with the factory. There are numerous generic versions of the medicine, though; have you tried those?
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:30 PM on July 26, 2013


Yes! I'm having the same issue with dye-free benadryl. Apparently the factories that produce all forms of Maalox have been shut down due to problems with the production line (ie contamination/FDA drama). It appears to have started sometime last December and is major enough to have impacted some of the generic forms of Maalox too. :(
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:34 PM on July 26, 2013


A similar problem has affected Mylanta.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 7:37 PM on July 26, 2013


This happened to Buckley's cough syrup last year, too -- production line shutdown. I spent half a day calling at one point (I was sick and it's seriously the only thing that kills a lingering cough for me) and I couldn't get any answer as to when production might be starting up again.
posted by scody at 7:37 PM on July 26, 2013


Is this common? Maalox, Mylanta, Benadryl, and other cough syrups have all been shut down? That seems strange to me.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:38 PM on July 26, 2013


Excedrin was off the market for a year or so, too, before returning a few months ago.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:50 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was very annoyed last fall to find that my favorite cold symptom fighter, the DayQuil hot tea packets were also gone due to a factory shut-down. You could buy a dozen in a box at an exorbitant price on Amazon at the time. I haven't looked for it since but I do find it rather odd. Artificial scarcity in the OTC market or something far more mundane?
posted by amanda at 7:54 PM on July 26, 2013


Levoxyl (synthetic thyroid med) was shut down earlier this year and isn't expected to be back until mid-2014. This is a major issue for thyroid patients. In the course of researching this I learned that the factories don't just make a continuous stream of the various drugs all year round; they set up to make one drug and do a production run of that, then switch to the next one. If they were to reconfigure to make the Levoxyl out of order, it would bump some other drug, creating a shortage there.
posted by HotToddy at 7:57 PM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's been gone for quite a while now! However, at least at Walgreens, they've finally gotten a similar product on the shelves again. (For quite a while the generic brands were gone too -- I don't know if it was to avoid bad press, due to pressure from Maalox's manufacturer, or if they were all being made at the same place.)
posted by wintersweet at 9:38 PM on July 26, 2013


Is this common? Maalox, Mylanta, Benadryl, and other cough syrups have all been shut down? That seems strange to me.

I'm a pharmacy purchasing manager, and I can tell you that the incidence of drug shortages and back orders have been skyrocketing. The number of drug shortages per year has quadrupled over the past five years, and each of the past three years has been a new annual record. Novartis has been hit especially hard (they also make Excedrin) lately. There was a shockingly tragic story about shortages in parenteral nutrition drugs in the Washington Post recently.

Why? There are many reasons, but the primary one is that the massive series of mergers and buyouts in the pharmaceutical industry over the past ten years has meant that companies have consolidated their manufacturing facilities. Where in the past you might have had six or seven companies manufacturing a certain drug in eight or ten factories around the country, you now have one or two companies making it at two or three sites. If one of those sites goes down do to equipment problems or regulatory shutdown for improper safety standards (that's what happened to Novartis -- they got hydrocodone in their Excedrin bottles, allegedly), that means the other sites (if any) can't keep up with the increased demand.

The generic versions of those name brand products are often manufactured at those same sites (as you've been hearing for years), so that is why a shortage in the name brand also means a shortage in the generic.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:45 AM on July 27, 2013 [113 favorites]


Drug shortages of controlled substances are hitting ADHD patients like mad as well.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:06 AM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This has also effected some medicated shampoos. Nizoral (active ingredient ketoconazole) has been gone for a while now, although it will supposedly be back anytime. A less well known brand, Polytar (best coal tar shampoo ever), won't be available until 'sometime' in 2014.
posted by monopas at 1:40 PM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drug shortages of controlled substances are hitting ADHD patients like mad as well.

Any chance you can elaborate, or provide links to more info on this, spinifex23? As the parent of a child medicated for ADHD, I find this rather concerning/disturbing.
posted by Talullah at 7:12 PM on July 27, 2013


There was a major shortage for amphetamine salts (generic Adderall) a few years ago, but the cause was a bit more complicated. Drug manufacturers are granted approval by the DEA to produce controlled substances, but only for set quantities of each drug. The manufacturers were saying that the quotas were too small to meet growing customer demand. The DEA countered that drug companies were producing too much of the brand drug and not enough of the generic as a way of trying to drive up profit.

In the case of Adderall, the problem seems to have sorted itself out. But methylphenidate (Ritalin) is currently on the FDA's Drug Shortages list, with manufacturers citing increased demand relative to supply and production capacity.
posted by dephlogisticated at 11:36 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Many thanks for the added info, dephlogisticated - and the useful link to the drug shortages list.
posted by Talullah at 7:45 PM on July 28, 2013


Is there data on why smaller competitors can't compete in the pharma market? High barriers to entry? Regulatory costs? Can't compete against economies of scale of large companies?
posted by Wretch729 at 10:25 PM on July 28, 2013


As I understand it, doctors don't recommend OTC cough syrups for anyone any longer because they've been proven not to work. It's a good thing they are disappearing from the market., due to being before rice with high potential for abuse.
posted by spitbull at 4:47 AM on July 29, 2013


I was very annoyed last fall to find that my favorite cold symptom fighter, the DayQuil hot tea packets were also gone due to a factory shut-down. You could buy a dozen in a box at an exorbitant price on Amazon at the time. I haven't looked for it since but I do find it rather odd. Artificial scarcity in the OTC market or something far more mundane?

Target has their own brand of hot tea packets. They only have a nighttime formula and it's not always in stock. I've bought 2-3 boxes, just in case.
posted by pibeandres at 10:00 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh! Does this explain why, like Scody, I can't get any Buckley's in Toronto until the fall?!

[cough]
posted by avocet at 11:19 AM on August 1, 2013


Rock Steady:
Why? There are many reasons, but the primary one is that the massive series of mergers and buyouts in the pharmaceutical industry over the past ten years has meant that companies have consolidated their manufacturing facilities. Where in the past you might have had six or seven companies manufacturing a certain drug in eight or ten factories around the country, you now have one or two companies making it at two or three sites. If one of those sites goes down do to equipment problems or regulatory shutdown for improper safety standards (that's what happened to Novartis -- they got hydrocodone in their Excedrin bottles, allegedly), that means the other sites (if any) can't keep up with the increased demand.
So, what you're saying is... monopolies (such as those that happen when every producer of Maalox-type drugs gets bought up by the same multinational pharma company) aren't good for the consumer, and ultimately probably aren't good for the producers, either?

Who could possibly have foreseen that anything wrong could result from all these multi-$B mergers? (/sarc)
posted by IAmBroom at 10:29 AM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


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