Excedrin Migraine Pain Relief

August 21st, 2013

TINA.org reader Ted M. submitted a tip concerning the pricing of Excedrin Migraine Pain Reliever versus Excedrin Extra Strength Pain Reliever. According to Ted, the Extra Strength formula is much less expensive than the Migraine formula, but contains the same active ingredients in the same amounts. He also told us that generic copies of these drugs are priced in a similarly deceptive way.

Here’s what a TINA.org investigation found:

Excedrin Migraine Pain Reliever and its generic counterparts contain the following active ingredients:

  • Acetaminophen 250 mg
  • Aspirin 250 mg
  • Caffeine 65 mg

Excedrin Extra Strength Pain Reliever and its generic counterparts contain the following active ingredients:

  • Acetaminophen 250 mg
  • Aspirin 250 mg
  • Caffeine 65 mg

Looks familiar, right?

And our reader is right about the pricing in several cases, too. The Walmart store brand Equate, in particular, charges $9.22 for 200 tablets of their migraine formula and only $4.00 for the extra strength version. On average, however, stores price their migraine formulas only slightly higher than their extra strength formulas.  The average per unit cost of migraine relief tablets is $0.09, while the average per unit cost of extra strength tablets is $0.08.

The prices we took into account were taken from each store’s website, but they may vary from location to location and readers should be wary. Though it might seem like a small difference, the pricing is fishy considering the formulas contain the exact same active ingredients in the exact same amounts. Just goes to show you should always read labels carefully and compare prices before making a purchase. It is a common practice to repackage and rename a product with a higher price in order to sell more to a targeted market.

Here are some photographs of Excedrin packaging and pricing taken at a local supermarket.

excedrin-migraine   excedrin-extra-strength excedrin-comparison

Here is a table of different brands and prices.

Store Product Count Price Unit Price
Walmart Excedrin Migraine Pain Reliever 100 $8.94 $0.09
Walmart Excedrin Extra Strength Pain Reliever 100 $8.98 $0.09
Walmart Equate Migraine Pain Reliever 200 $9.22 $0.05
Walmart Equate Extra Strength Headache Relief 200 $4.00 $0.02
Rite Aid Excedrin Migraine Pain Reliever 100 $11.49 $0.11
Rite Aid Excedrin Extra Strength Pain Reliever 200 $15.99 $0.08
Rite Aid Rite Aid Migraine Pain Reliever 250 $14.99 $0.06
Rite Aid Rite Aid Extra Strength Pain Reliever, Headache Formula 100 $7.99 $0.08
Walgreens Excedrin Migraine Pain Reliever 100 $11.99 $0.12
Walgreens Excedrin Extra Strength Pain Reliever 100 $11.99 $0.12
Walgreens Walgreens Migraine Pain Relief 100 $8.29 $0.08
Walgreens Walgreens Extra Strength Headache Relief 100 $8.29 $0.08
CVS Excedrin Extra Strength Pain Reliever 100 $11.49 $0.11
CVS Excedrin Migraine Pain Reliever 100 $10.99 $0.11
CVS CVS Migraine Relief 100 $9.29 $0.09
CVS CVS Added Strength Headache Relief 100 $7.99 $0.08

TINA.org reached out to Excedrin maker Novartis US for comment and will update readers if we hear back from the company.

For another case of repackaging as marketing, check out our post on Sarafem and Zyban.

Update 8/27/13: We received this response from an Excedrin representative:

Excedrin® Migraine and Excedrin® Extra Strength are different products and not considered the same based on their indication for use and clinical studies conducted to support their indications.

The FDA has reviewed data submitted in support of the Excedrin® Migraine product, as well as Excedrin® Extra Strength to determine the appropriate dose and dosing schedule for their respective indications.

Excedrin® Migraine is an OTC medication indicated for acute use and is not intended for chronic use or for prevention of migraines per directions on the bottle. Excedrin® Extra Strength is an OTC medication indicated to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains due to: headache, a cold, arthritis, muscular aches, toothache, premenstrual and menstrual cramps.

Update 1/15/2014: Several class-action lawsuits haven been filed against Novartis, the company that makes Excedrin. The plaintiffs allege that they believed Excedrine migraine would better treat migraines because it was more expensive than regular Excedrine when the formulas for Excedrine and Excedrine migraine were actually the same.

Yingst vs. Novartis
Anthony vs. Novartis
Cortina vs. Novartis

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