Pepcid Complete Missing…Again

[Editor’s Note: On occasion, when updates become available to this story, I will bump the post from its original publish date to the forefront.]

ADDITIONAL OFFICIAL COMMENT FROM J&J, received Monday, September 12 at 2:30pm, in direct response to my request to them for information about when the product might return to the shelves. Commenter Bernard asked the question first, and I followed up, per his request.

We are working to get PEPCID® COMPLETE®  back on store shelves as quickly as possible and expect some PEPCID® COMPLETE® products to be shipped to stores later this year, with more availability coming in 2012.  In the meantime, other PEPCID ® products, including Maximum Strength PEPCID® AC® and Original Strength PEPCID® AC®, are in stock at stores nationwide.

THIS JUST IN: OFFICIAL COMMENT FROM J&J, received Friday, September 9 at 3:15pm from Jodie Wertheim:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us, and I apologize for the delay getting back to you. Please see comment below.
Thanks again,
Jodie Wertheim

COMMENT:

When it comes to quality, we are evaluating our processes and making improvements at all the plants that manufacture our OTC products, including products marketed by Johnson & Johnson • Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals, Co. (JJMCP).  As we do so, some products, such as PEPCID® COMPLETE®, may occasionally become temporarily unavailable.  Other PEPCID ® products, including Maximum Strength PEPCID® AC® and Original Strength PEPCID® AC® are in stock at stores nationwide.

GOT THE CALL! A Mr. Freeman from J&J called to say they were preparing a statement!! He asked for my email address, which I of course gave him, but I said that J&J could comment directly to the blog, and I would see that it was posted promptly!

UPDATE FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 9: Not having heard yet, I just called the Pepcid Complete Contact us number: 1-800-755-4008. Spoke with Keith who told me my request had been given a Reference number and “escalated” to the Media Department. I joked with him a bit and asked if after “escalated” they added “crazy female blogger” but he didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor. I once again asked how long it might take to hear from the media Department and he graciously but firmly said it was now out of his hands. Understood. Now, looking out the window on a pretty Friday, I’m guessing the Media Department isn’t sitting around planning an official response for my readers. So we wait. Sigh.

UPDATE, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7: I just spoke with J&J Pepcid Customer Service, explained that I was a blogger and asked for an official response to Why Pepcid Complete is Missing. I gave them my name and home phone number, as well as the web address of the blog. I said they could either make a comment directly on the blog post, or call me and give me their official word. I finished the conversation by asking when I might hear back from their representative. Today? Well, maybe today, maybe in a couple of days, I was told. The saga continues.

Back in December 2010, I did a long-winded post called The Case of The Disappearing Pepcid Complete which later got picked up by the NYT when the news caught the attention of one of their drug reporters.

Well, it’s Missing Again. Gone from all grocery stores. Gone from all drug stores, in any state I have asked friends to search. Gone from big-box stores. Gone from online Drugstore.com and Amazon.com.

I don’t use it daily so the last bottle I bought kept me burp-free for months and I jot down that I need a new jar when I have about 10 or so chewables left.

That was a good two months ago when I began this search in Rhode Island. I tried CVS, Rite Aid, Target, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Stop ‘n Shop, Shaw’s and even my local independent grocer. No one had it.

When in a Bedford Hills CVS today, I stood in line to ask the pharmacist what she knew why PC was once again missing – but after 15 minutes of waiting, I left without an answer.

CVS’s brand has a remarkable likeness to the real deal, the same ingredients even. I have not had the need to use the generic so I can’t report if it works like the brand name.

I will give J&J a call tomorrow for some “official comment” but meanwhile if anyone sees it, HOLLER.

50 thoughts on “Pepcid Complete Missing…Again

  1. Congrats on being linked in the NYT, I had no idea!

    Gosh, between you and your commenters we pretty much wrote that whole blog post for her. 😆

    You should add “author, quoted by the NYT” to your resume.

  2. I called J&J myself last week and got the line that they were again experiencing “distribution issues.” Now that was what they re the first major disappearance. I venture to guess that Pepcid Complete is making a permanent exit, stage left. Why else would CVS market their own replica of the product? I myself bought the CVS brand. They do work, but they are hard as a rock, like TUMS. The Pepcid Complete was manageable, not a jawbreaker.

    Thanks for keeping us abreast of this. J&J has had several missteps, Pepcid Complete a mystery that seems to pretty much go unnoticed and under-reported.

  3. My husband uses Pepcid Complete like it was his religion, swearing it’s the ONLY product that cures his indigestion/sour stomach. I saw this Second Disappearance coming and in the spring bought two cases (yes CASES) at the CVS in Mount Kisco. Looks like I could make a little side money now and boost the kids college fund. What’s one jar worth you to EOS, or Jim P? 🙂

    1. Catherine: you could send each of your children to four-years of Ivy on what that Pepcid is worth on the black market. One Amazon third-party has a jar selling for $49.95. That’s about $1.00 per tablet. You could probably set up a card table in front of Starbucks or some pizza or taco join and do quite well for yourself.

  4. I’m in Cleveland, OH and Pepcid Complete is missing for me too. I hope Johnson& Johnson calls you because I’d love to know the real story.

    Catherine was smart to buy so many at once. I wish I had thought of that.

  5. I travel alot for business and can attest that no store in 22 of the 48 contiguous states has one jar of PC. Catherine, name your price. Smart woman.

  6. Same here in Southeast Massachusetts. Just travelled a 30 mile radius and found not one bottle. I also called today and was given the same production rhetoric as I received last year. The representative gave no help in any time frame as to when they would be back in stock. It is almost like they don’t really care about their customers. Good Luck on the search. Write back if you start to see them at stores near you.

    1. I will Lisa. Thanks for adding your comments. It’s so helpful.

      I didn’t hear back from the J&J contact today and if I were a betting person, I’d say I got the old run-around when I was told someone would call.

  7. So much for getting a real story out of J&J. I’d say that’s more an ad for their other products than it is a reason why Complete is gone. That’s really a pathetic attempt at justifying the absence.

  8. A waste of a comment. Says to me they are hiding something. NO PRODUCT as popular as PC would go missing twice in the span of one calendar year. I trust you’ll follow up with the New York Times?

    Good job.

  9. Saw your tweet to Dr. Besser. I’ve been a fan of PC for years and noticed it went missing again. Good article and blog post. Hope you get some national coverage. What a JOKE response from J&J. My dead dog couldn’t have written a better comment!!

  10. Agree with Arlene. Joke comment. As I see it, they just got free advertising space. You should send them a bill!! Good sleuthing and good post.

  11. It’s been missing in my Kansas town now for a couple of months. No high-profile company should be able to post such a nonsense comment and not be held accountable. LOL at Arlene’s dead dog writing it better.

  12. You called them Wednesday and it took them until today to write that? I’d fire the whole Media Department at J&J. That’s no comment. That’s an advertisement.

  13. Found your link via tweet to @BrendanLoy. Coloradan here. No PC for at least two months. Must be nice to run a company and not have to tell the real story why a product disappears twice. Just like our Federal Government when we ask where our tax dollars go!

  14. Did you try reaching the NYT reporter who wrote the article last time? He/she might appreciate an update.

    Maybe the Dems and Repubs can’t agree but here, I think we ALL concur: the comment from J&J was worthless.

    Good post.

    1. Yes, Lawrence. I saved the contact info from Natasha Singer of the NYT. I sent her an email this afternoon.
      UPDATE: I heard back from Natasha that she no longer reports for the drug industry but has forwarded my email to the appropriate person.

  15. If you wanted to REALLY find out what the problem is, you could file a FOIL request (Freedom of Information Law) against J&J Merck. There’s a back-story here. Concur that no product that sells in millions would have the excuse to disappear by “making improvements at all the plants.”

  16. With school back in session for me (the teacher), I am completely off my game reading blogs. But this caught my eye and I had to comment. Mr. CT. Tennis Player pops Pepcid Complete like candy, his job at BofA-ML just a tad stressful these days!! When I couldn’t find them anymore, we set out on a tri-state search, widened when we went up to Maine for a wedding. I don’t know which is worse – worrying that hubby will lose his job or that he’s grumpy without his Pepcid. 🙂

  17. Gone from California and UK too. Global recall with for no apparent reason. They never really addressed the precious recall “updating plants” fiasco so I guess J&J can slide through this event too, hoping IT will “disappear.” Keep on it.

  18. Who knew a little pill for indigestion could cause so much ruckus? I’m glad I have an iron stomach! Good luck to you all. Sounds like such a popular product, hard to understand why it could be taken off the shelves twice in the span of six months.

  19. If J&J is so irresponsible to produce that inane comment to an important blogger, then I say move on. I bought the CVS brand and it’s not bad. Same ingredients.

  20. I also have switched over to the CVS brand. Why should I be loyal to a brand that doesn’t care enough to even tell us the real reason why they’ve pulled the plug again?

  21. I got to thinking that you might want to go back to CVS and ask their pharmacist what they know. I find it very curious that CVS has marketed their brand to look identical to Pepcid, to the name Dual Action, to the identical ingredients, and to the phrase “relieves heartburn due to acid indigestion.” I wonder if CVS knows that PC isn’t coming back and decided to get on the bandwagon while the getting is good. My best friend told me that at her CVS, even the look-alike is close to being gone from the shelves.

  22. None to be found here, either, in the heart of Walmart Country. This mystery reminds me of the disappearance, about 20 years ago (I think), of a very different but also wildly popular OTC product: the contraceptive sponge. Eventually the story came out that the regulators weren’t happy with the conditions in which it was manufactured, and the manufacturer just plain stopped making it, at least for a while. Makes me wonder if that’s the sort of thing going on here. It is SO stupid for a company to be evasive in this way these days. A) they won’t get away with it, and B) the rumors and speculation that fill the void will get a whole lot of traction.

  23. Your blog is the one and only place in the Web where I can follow a credible story on the PEPCID COMPLETE saga. Please keep going! Unfortunately, the message the manufacturer passed on to you on 9 September does not say, even vagely, when the medication will be back… Could you ask? They seem more responsive to you. In the meantime, I tried two look alikes: “TUMS Dual Action” and “Walgreens Acid Controller Complete” (same composition). Both leave a pretty bad after-taste and are very hard, too. Still, J&J is going to see its market share reduced if they keep treating us this way…!

    1. Bernard: You know I didn’t even think to ask the J&J contact when they would have the product back. I guess when I knew they were going to make a statement, I figured it would actually BE a statement, not a piece of puffery.

      Thanks for your comment, especially the review of the two look-alikes.

  24. I find the “additional comment” most telling – that the product will be gone for months. This, as others have said, can not be making improvements to the plants. It can not be.

    Bernard is right. You are the definitive source of reliable information on this subject. There are other bloggers out there with a similar post but you really stays on topic and address the disappearance. Thank you for your efforts.

  25. Hi,
    You would think in these hard economic times that a company would want to keep all the customers it can. It seems to be a popular product, so not having the product on the shelf is certainly a mystery, I wish you all the luck in finding out what is going on.

      1. If only. 😆
        As far as I know I have never seen this product, oh well I will have to make my fortune some other way. 😀
        Again I hope you do get some answers, it still seems stupid not to have the product on the shelfs, company’s in most country’s are screaming out for customers..

  26. Later this year? Is that what they said, and into 2012? Do you think I have to worry about the product I have now, that I bought after the last disappearance/reappearance? Could they be tainted? And if not, then why the heck would they need to “make improvements to the plants”? Makes NO sense to me.

  27. Terry makes the best comment here. If J&J reintroduced Pepcid in March to most of the US market, what did they do to the plants between December of 2010 and March 2011? And are they now saying, by pulling the product again, that what they did to the plants was unsuccessful? Are we to throw away the product that was bought during that period? Is it dangerous to consume? If their answer is none of the above to my questions, then I say they are lying bout why the product is missing now.

    Keep us informed.

  28. To further Terry and Peter’s comments: are we to presume that the Pepcid Complete available for sale on Amazon is not safe to consume? Why would J&J allow a product they have deemed unworthy to sell themselves be marketed through third-party sellers at Amazon?

    Can you pose this question to them please?

  29. Somewhat older article (but written after the last shortage) says that the FDA has taken over control of the plants involved in making Pepcid Complete (and other drugs) in Lancaster, Pa. and Ft. Washington, Pa.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-10/j-j-charged-with-violating-u-s-law-barred-from-making-drugs-at-plant.html
    FDA’s announcement:
    http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm246685.htm

    Honestly, I’d try to find the best generic store brand and forget about Pepcid Complete for a long time. They’ve had problems dating back to 2009 on these plants.

    I suspect the J&J is glossing over the fact that the FDA is calling the shots at these plants and they have no control over what gets made or not. They just had another Tylenol recal in June for the same reasons as the last one and they’re not even making it at the same plant any longer.

  30. Not sure that it was an official “recall” – I saw 1 50 ct bottle of the mint (which is the only that works in my opinion) – on the shelf under the clearance “get it while it lasts” label on the shelf, at a local CVS last week. Wish I would have bought it… but my husband eats them like candy so its not like it would have lasted through the current issue.

    I wouldn’t be worried about product that became available after the last issue – to now. Again husband lives on them, if they were dangerous, he’d be dead (seriously) LOL

  31. WAL-MART’S EQUATE BRAND OF ANTACID WORKS JUST AS WELL. AND COST HALF OF WHAT PEPCID COMPLETE DOES. I HAVE ACID REFLUX DISEASE AND HAVE TO HAVE IT EVERY TIME I EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING. IT DOES NOT TASTE QUITE AS GOOD AS PEPCID COMPLETE AND DOES NOT MELT AS FAST BUT IT DOES JUST AS GOOD A JOB AS PEPCID COMPLETE. I HAVE GIVEN UP ON PEPCID COMPLETE AND DON’T CARE IF IT COMES BACK OR NOT. I AM TIRED OF THE RUN AROUND AND YES I HAVE BOUGHT IT FROM AMAZON AT THE JACKED UP PRICE BUT NO MORE. THEY DON’T SEEM TO HAVE ALL THE CORRECT ANSWERS WHEN YOU CALL THEM AND I THINK THEY ARE HIDING SOMETHING. IF YOU ARE SELLING A PRODUCT THAT DOES SO WELL AS PEPCID COMPLETE DID (PAST TENSE NOT FUTURE) YOU MAKE SURE YOU KEEP UP WITH THE DEMAND NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES. SOMEBODY HAS DROPPED THE BALL ON THIS ONE AND IF I WAS IN CHARGE OF THE OPERATION SOME HEADS WOULD ROLL. SO GOODBYE PEPCID COMPLETE FOR YOU ARE NOT LONG FOR BEING A THING OF THE PAST.

  32. I think I may have figured it out. My guess as to the reason we have heard nothing, and nobody is talking anywhere is because these products are now being manufactured in below standard manufacturing plants. On top of that I believe that the Brand companies did not stay on top of the quality and safety controls of the products and it is coming back to bite them, and us, the consumers in the fanny. We will probably never know for sure as this is an example of greed vs safety. This is just my opinion, but it isn’t the first time this type of thing has happened.

  33. Has there been ANY new news on when it will be back on the shelves?!? The CVS brand certainly isn’t doing the same job…

  34. Hey J&J…it is September 2012
    One of your most popular products vanished from shelves years ago.

    If you cannot give your customers an honest answer, what have your stock holders been told?

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