Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where’s the Benefiber?



I know I’m not the only person in the world who experiences this: I fall in love with a TV show or a product, and suddenly it gets yanked and is no longer available.  Sometimes it works out well for me.  For example, when Abbott stopped selling the Wild Berry flavor of Ensure, I was forced to try other flavors.  I’ve now developed a love for the Butter Pecan and Coffee Latte flavors.  I wish I could say the same about the TV shows that I now miss. 

For the last few months, I’ve been trying to find the wonderful fiber product Benefiber at my usual stores.  It’s gone from the shelves.  Why?  Where is it?  How could Novartis discontinue this wonderful product?  What’s going on?


I decided to go right to the source: the manufacturer, Novartis.  A search of the Novartis website press room revealed nothing.  An internet search sent me to sites where consumers like me were asking the same questions about this product.  They also had suggestions for replacement products in case Benefiber never returned to stores.

Novartis must have a plan or something.  I returned to their website and found the name of a Media Relations contact: Julie Masow.  I sent her an e-mail asking my questions so that I could write about Benefiber here on this blog.  Then I waited.  She replied the same day, but I didn’t check my e-mail again until almost a week later.  Her quick response was a nice surprise.

Contrary to what I’d been reading on other websites, Novartis had not recalled Benefiber.  What had been recalled were products made in the same manufacturing facility in Lincoln, Nebraska which Novartis voluntarily shut down in January 2012.  Will Benefiber ever return to stores?  Following is Julie’s response ("NCH" is Novartis Consumer Health):

…NCH continues to perform upgrades and improve processes and procedures at its manufacturing facility to ensure it meets high quality standards.  As a result, we are experiencing a supply disruption of products like Benefiber.  We are working as quickly as we can to return these products back to store shelves.  We appreciate the patience and loyalty of our consumers and retail partners, and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience the absence of these products has caused.”

Thank you, Julie Masow!  Not only a quick reply but a thorough reply to my questions.  This only increases my loyalty to Benefiber.  Consumers appreciate it when companies acknowledge and respect our support and loyalty for their products and services.  I love Benefiber and hope to see it back on store shelves soon.

How I wish every product that I love and that disappears from store shelves has suffered a supply disruption and will return soon.  Another product I love that hasn’t been available all of a sudden is Yoplait’s Thick and Creamy Blueberry Pie yogurt.  I wonder what happened to it?  I love the thick and creamy custard style yogurts, and I think some of the Greek yogurts on the market are similar without the extra added sugar.  But as a replacement for the Yoplait Blueberry Pie yogurt?  I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that, but they stopped making a wonderful lemon meringue pie flavor that’s not returned….

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is the same reply that I got when I phoned their headquarters. I just wish the would give an eta!

Anonymous said...

I don't buy this answer. It has been roughly 18 months (from the time of this comment) since they pulled Benefiber, Excedrin and GasX from the shelves. GasX returned first and Excedrin returned in October. It makes me wonder what's really going on that a year and a half later Benefiber isn't back.

Gina said...

To Anonymous -- both of you if you are not the same person: Please, please, please feel free to contact Novartis and request a timetable for their re-introduction of Benefiber. The more people who call or e-mail about this, maybe they'll get the message that the public wants their product NOW.

Anonymous said...

At this point, I don't expect to see Benefiber return. The delay has been too long; they have ceded the market to their competitors. Novartis' continual stonewalling of its customers is a clear signal that it intends to abandon this product.

Anonymous said...

Aah the mystery is solved! I have been buying walgreens version of benefiber and I guess I will continue to do so. I am thinking their products must have been contaminated for them to shut down the plant!?

Gina said...

I do not believe it was a contamination issue, from what I've read. I think it was an equipment performance issue.

Anonymous said...

Other websites have stated that the product will be back on the shelves by the end of June

Gina said...

End of June! Well, I guess we'll see if that's the case or not. I hope it is. This product has been missed....

Angie_STL said...

I just started looking for Benefiber again after a long period of just not using a fiber supplement. I've used it before and it's just so easy, that if I'm going to use one, Benefiber was the one I wanted. I prefer the pre measured little packets, though I haven't thought to check Walgreens, I know Walmart doesn't have a generic of those. But no matter what, I really appreciate that the first time I go searching google to see if I can find out what happened to the darling little packets of Benefiber, I found this great blog with all the answers none of the news sites or even wiki seemed to have had!! So thank you very much for posting the info that you got from the company after you took the time to ask them what was going on!! I appreciate you sharing!!

Gina said...

Thanks, Angie_STL! Let's hope that it will return to the stores by the end of this month. I've gotten over 4500 views on this blog post -- that's 4500 people waiting, waiting, waiting....

Jess542L31 said...

Hi everyone,
I'm coming to the UD in August and was planning on buying Benefibrer as it is what I use at home in Australia. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good substitute incase benefiber is still not available by the time I get there?
Thanks
Jess

Anonymous said...

I use a substitute from Costco that says it's "similar" to Benefiber... I don't have the name, but there aren't many fiber options there. :)From my experience, it works just as well and is cheaper.

Gina said...

Walgreens also has an effective substitute.

Jess542L31 said...

Thank you all

Anonymous said...

I do know for sure the Benefiber is going to be back on the shelves in a few weeks. I know that because I work for the company that is producing it.

Anonymous said...

I have long ago given up hope of seeing Benefiber again. Fiber Choice is available at Walmart for much less. I have found it to be as effective, (given some time to adjust to it.)

Gina said...

Don't give up hope! We've heard here from someone who works for the company that produces it, and this person says that it will return to the store shelves in the next few weeks.

Let me know here what part of the country you're in and when you see it in stores.....

Anonymous said...

While shopping at my local Publix yesterday, low and behold, on the shelf is Benefiber once again! Thank heavens for small miracles.

Gina said...

What part of the country is your local Publix, Anonymous?

Benefiber is baaaack! It may take some time to roll out nationally so let us know what part of the country you spot it on store shelves, please!

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I can verify that the big "B" is back in town!!! (at least at Publix in Fort Lauderdale Florida)

After all this time, my colon is finally "smiling" again...

Anonymous said...

I called Novartis last week and they said that it should be on the shelves nationally by the middle of July. Didn't know which options were going to be produced and suggested that I call back next week for the updated version. Haven't seen it in the middle of the US where I live.

Anonymous said...

Called and spoke with customer rep at Novartis yesterday and he stated that it will be on the shelves nationally by the middle of July. Wasn't sure what products were being released and suggested to call next week for the updated list. Have tried multiple other products and they all have caused GI distress. So happy it is returning!

SS said...

I use the Costco brand as well. It's Kirkland's Optifiber and it's basically the same as Benefiber. Give it a try!

Anonymous said...

"Novartis Axes 300 Jobs At Troubled Nebraska Plant"

http://www.pharmalive.com/novartis-axes-300-jobs-at-troubled-nebraska-plant

Gina said...

I was shopping in a Twin Cities Target store yesterday and found a shelf of Benefiber! It's in Minnesota, folks!

Anonymous said...

It's also on the shelves at BJ's in Pennsylvania -- YAY.

Anonymous said...

I found three bottles of Benefiber at CVS in Detroit, MI
Wasn't sure if it was a few leftovers that someone dug up from a storeroom, but these newer posts suggest that it is back!!! My colon is grateful!!!!!!

Frank The Bear said...

Much to my surprise it was back on the shelf in Fred Meyer (a Kroger store) today 7.25.13. In the meantime I have been using Metamucil Clear and Natural an acceptable substitute but not as good.

Anonymous said...

Just run out of my last Benefiber pot I had and there doesn't seem to be any sign of it in UK supermarkets.

It is showing up on their own websites, but it isn't on the comparison sites nor visible on their shelves either.

Our main pharmacy chain Boots also advertises it as being available, but i have been unable to find it in any of the branches I have been into.

I'll leave it a little while and have to consider replacing it with something else if it doesn't turn up.

Gina said...

To Anonymous in the UK: It could be that distribution to your country has been delayed. Give it some time. We are definitely seeing it in stores here in America. Hope it shows up soon for you!

Anonymous said...

it's back on the shelves in Delaware!!

Anonymous said...

Since Benefiber was pulled, I have been searching for a similar, effective substitute. I have used the Top Care brand from Walmart and it's 'ok'. My preference is the Costco brand, which works well and is around $20 for the 190 serving container. I have not seen the convenient 'to go' sticks, though, like Benefiber offered.

Barb said...

I recently have been seeing a few canisters come back in Southern New Jersey. Haven't seen the packets yet, tho. I have found that the Walmart Equate brand has been working for me, it dissolves well in milk (unlike Benefiber), and I use half as much as I did with Benefiber. I may not switch back, except for the travel packets.

Anonymous said...

It's back on the shelves in WalMart, Tallahassee, FL

Anonymous said...

It is back on the shelf at Hy-Vee grocery store in Olathe KS.

Anonymous said...

Back on the shelf in Toledo, Ohio

Pam said...

Yesterday my Cardiologist told me to go to Costco and buy the Optifiber. (high cholestero) He said this is what he uses and it works well. When I got there I saw that it is the Kirkland brand of Benefiber....which was stocked full right next to it. So, Costco in Bakersfield, CA has a full supply of both.

Gina said...

I saw my first Benefiber TV commercial this morning! This is a great sign that they're getting back to marketing because this means they have the product in the stores.

Anonymous said...

Not here in Toronto Ontario Canada as of Sept 9 - I think the stores here have taken it off their inventory. I got a sugar free Metamucil but it had aspartame in the fine print, I can't stand the after taste.

jae said...

I'd like to see the orange flavored benefiber back!

Anonymous said...

There is a better fiber product line widely available called Fiberrific. It has no taste, doesn't thicken and is higher in fiber than any other supplement (97% fiber!). They have it plain, with added probiotics (better immunity), with added digestive enzymes (better digestion), added vitamin D (prevent disease) and added B vitamins (for heart health). The products are all vegan, kosher and government approved. They are available at most health stores in Canada, Loblaws stores (natural section), Wal-Mart (diabetes section) and online from Well.ca, Bestbuy.ca and Aviva.ca For more info you can visit their site Fiberrific.com

Gina said...

Anyone know if Benefiber will return to the stores in Canada?

Anonymous said...

its back! i got 2 coupons in the mail (good ones!) my mother in law has been using benefiber for years and when it disappeared she was pretty mad....we tried all the other brands but she really didnt like them....i bought it for the first time last sunday!

Anonymous said...

I just talked to Novartis and there is no date as to when Benefibre will be available in Canada. Currently only in the US.

Anonymous said...

I just talked to Novartis customer service and they have no timeline as to when Benefibre will be available in Canada.

Anonymous said...

This says it all.
http://www.pharmalive.com/novartis-axes-300-jobs-at-troubled-nebraska-plant

The straw that broke the camel's back was the finding of different, multiple products in the filling area of the production lines during an inspection. I believe Excedrin was running at the time. The story above links all of the actual issues. Enjoy reading!

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming it is still not available in Ontario, Canada as I have been looking, but cannot find this product... *sigh*

Anonymous said...

This product is still not available in British Columbia, Canada. Why is it still so hard to get? BTW, I used to buy Benefiber in the states and tried Optifiber purchased from Costco. The product is different. Canadian Benefibre is made with inulin vs. American one is wheat dextrin. What's the difference? Anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Benefiber sticks are still not available in the Chicago area. Non-flavored Benefiber is available though. If they are having trouble getting it back on the shelves, why is it you an order it online. It appears they may want consumers to purchase online to charge for shipping.....

Anonymous said...

This product is still not in any stores in British Columbia, Canada. I've been using Life Brand Clearly Fibre purchased from Shoppers Drug Mart. It's the same product in Benefiber - Inulin. I called twice to the Novartis office in Montreal. They gave the usual BS and no new info that is any good. Tired of the run around. I told them it's going to be hard to get the customers back.

Anonymous said...

Costco in Calgary (Balzac actually) had the larger 200 dose containers 22.99+Gst last night.

Only a single display

There is hope yet, that they may be in other locations soon

Anonymous said...

I saw Benefiber at Costco in Victoria, BC. After waiting so long for this product to be available. I no longer want it. I've already stocked up on Life Brand Clearly Fibre bought from Shopper's Drug Mart. They're going to have to drop their prices to bring us back.

Anonymous said...

Save $$ with the On The Go Funnel instead of the packets. Buy in bulk and still get the convenience of on the go...the product pays for itself after the 1st purchase. www.onthegofunnel.com.