Novartis Consumer Health, Inc voluntarily recalled Excedrin, Nodoz, Bufferin and Gas-X Prevention products in January of 2012 after it was discovered that the drugs may have become contaminated with other Novartis products at the factory. The company shut down the factory, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, in an effort to find and eliminate the problem. The same factory was responsible for Benefiber production, leading to a shortage that lasted over a year despite not being directly affected by the recall.
Novartis announced the recall on Jan. 8, 2012 with the full knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Novartis feared the contaminated products because customers taking medicines they were unaware of presented a number of health risks, including incorrect dosing of the correct medication, undesirable drug interactions and allergy problems. No adverse effects were reported prior to the recall. Novartis spent approximately $120 million to repair the Lincoln facility, which was responsible for less than 2 percent of the company's sales at the time.
It is unclear why it took the company so long to return Benefiber to store shelves, especially since it was not involved in the recall. The recall notice acknowledged that the Lincoln facility would be reopened gradually, but no time frame was provided for any product's return to the marketplace. Private sellers increased the price of Benefiber dramatically during the height of the shortage, leaving many customers dissatisfied.