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Buckley's, NeoCitran plant shutdown leads to shortages

Written by: MICHAEL WOOD, QMI Agency
Oct. 10, 2012

Novartis Consumer Health Inc., a major manufacturer of cold relievers, has shut down its Nebraska plant, which supplies Canada.


CALGARY -- There should be no shortage of sniffling, sneezing, wheezing, hacking, coughing and stuffy-headed Canadians this winter -- the cold comfort they seek on store shelves is another matter.

Novartis Consumer Health Inc., a major manufacturer of seasonal relievers Buckley's, NeoCitran, Triaminic, has shut down its Nebraska plant for maintenance and improvements.

The Nebraska plant supplies all of Canada, Novartis Corp. spokeswoman Julie Masow said.

The shutdown comes after a particularly bad start to the year for the Novartis plant, where U.S. inspectors last December uncovered several violations that led to a massive recall of its products, including Excedrin.

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"Novartis Consumer Health is conducting maintenance and improvements at its manufacturing site to ensure our products meet the highest quality standards," the company said in a statement issued to QMI Agency on Wednesday.

"As a result, we are experiencing a supply disruption of Benefibre, Buckley's, Excedrin, Maalox, NeoCitran, Otrivin, Triaminic and Slow Fe in Canada.

"We are working as quickly as we can to return these products back on to store shelves.

"We appreciate the patience and loyalty of our consumers and retail partners, and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience the absence of these products has caused."

The timing, according to pharmacists and suppliers, couldn't be worse.

"It is that season," said Kamal Dullat, a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist at the Creekside location.

Dullat said his pharmacy has been out of NeoCitran for several weeks and he's been turning customers away at an increasing rate.

"We've tried both wholesalers and they're just giving us the same answers, they're not able to get it from the manufacturer," he said.

"They're just not able to supply it to us."

The story is the same at all Calgary Co-op locations.

"Calgary Co-op, like other retailers, is experiencing a shortage in Novartis medications," spokeswoman Cindy Drummond said.

Drummond couldn't pin down how low their inventory is, saying only that it's "definitely limited."

Masow, the Novartis spokeswoman, couldn't nail down a date when the company hopes to resume operations at its Nebraska plant.

"But we are working as quickly as we can to return these products back to store shelves."

Masow said part of the company's restart plan will eventually be the utilization of both Novartis and third-party manufacturing facilities so the company can pump out enough product to meet future demand.

michael.wood@sunmedia.ca

Affected Novartis products

Buckley's

NeoCitran

Excedrin

Maalox

Otrivin

Triaminic

Slow Fe

By the numbers

40 -- The percentage of sick days that can be traced back to the common cold (estimates vary)

22,000,000 -- The number of sick days kids with common colds in the U.S. take every year, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

1-3 -- The number of weeks your average cold can last

How do you prevent colds?

  • Fight germs by washing your hands properly and often, and by covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Keep your immune systems strong by staying in shape, eating well and getting enough sleep.

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