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If you have this popular painkiller, throw it away

Published Dec 24th, 2020 12:03PM EST
excedrin recall
Image: candy1812/Adobe

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  • Five different brands of the popular painkiller Excedrin have now been recalled due to a very serious issue with the product packaging.
  • The bottles that the medicine comes in have holes in the bottom, making it easy for children to get to the pills despite the “child-safe” bottle caps.
  • Over 400,000 bottles of various types of Excedrin are included in the recall.

There’s nothing worse than having a splitting headache or other body pains and not having a bottle of painkillers to turn to. Yeah, doctors are increasingly wary of recommending certain over-the-counter pain meds due to research showing long-term problems, but when your head hurts so bad that you can barely open your eyes, you’ll do anything to make that feeling go away.

Excedrin made a name for itself as “the headache medicine,” but it has since expanded its scope and is now sold for a variety of aches and pains. Unfortunately, a pretty serious issue with the product packaging has resulted in a huge recall of five different types of Excedrin, totaling over 430,000 bottles.

According to the official recall bulletin posted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, GSK Consumer Health has recalled bottles of Excedrine Migraine caplets and gel tabs, Excedrin Extra Strength caplets, Excedrin PM Headache caplets, and Excedrin Tension Headache caplets due to there being holes in the bottom of the bottles.

That sounds like a joke but it’s not. The company doesn’t offer an explanation in the recall notice but it’s clear that something went wrong in the manufacturing process, leading the bottom of the bottles to not be sealed completely. The result is bottles of the painkiller with gaps in the bottom.

The main issue here is that if you have a bottle of the painkiller with a hole in the bottom, it totally negates the child-safe cap on the top. If children can easily access the pills via a hole in the bottle, it could be a huge overdose risk. So, the company is recalling nearly half a million bottles to be sure that none of them causes a problem.

Some of the bottles containing the over-the-counter drug can have a hole in the bottom.  If there is a hole, children could access and swallow the contents, posing a risk of poisoning.  These products contain the substances aspirin and acetaminophen which must be in child resistant packaging as required by the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA).

As for what you should do if you have a bottle of the recalled medication, here’s what the company has to say:

Consumers should immediately store the recalled Excedrin bottles out of sight and reach of children and inspect the bottom of the bottle to determine if there is a hole.  If there is a hole in the bottle, contact GSK Consumer Relations for information on how to receive a prepaid shipping label for return to receive a full refund.  Bottles without a hole can be retained and used as directed.

Well, that’s pretty straightforward.