An over-the-counter medication widely used to treat the symptoms of mild food poisoning is in short supply around Seattle.
Imodium A-D, a brand-name loperamide, is promoted as an effective anti-diarrheal drug and has become a mainstay of many travel toiletry kits. But manufacturer McNeil Consumer Healthcare reports efforts to improve its popular product have resulted in drastic shipping delays.
(I know this is a rather nasty topic for a food blog, but a food lover who hasn't dealt with digestive problems hasn't eaten very much food. I promise we'll get back to the pleasures of eating momentarily.)
Imodium's website suggests pills are still available in 15 stores around the Seattle area, but includes a disclaimer that its location information may be outdated. Many area grocers and drugstores have affixed notes to their empty shelves, explaining they've been unable to obtain the product from its manufacturer.
The shortage isn't limited to the Pacific Northwest. While the scarcity hasn't yet been reported by the mainstream press, forums on various websites dedicated to parenting, pet care, and irritable bowel syndrome have tackled the topic in recent weeks. The posts suggest consumers in Missouri, Pennsylvania, and other states have had trouble locating the drug.
"I've been trying to get Imodium for the last week," a cancer survivor in Chicago wrote on a scrapbooking board. "Target, CVS and my local grocery store have NONE...only the generic."
According to McNeil spokesman Marc Boston, a consent decree between the company and the Food and Drug Administration requires "an independent expert review certain manufacturing records from select batches of products before they are released to the market." Boston says the current shipping slowdown has resulted from the oversight process, but declined to say what predicated the consent decree.
Boston would not comment on the extent of the shortage, nor would he say when normal availability might be restored.