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Novartis gives away new kids’ drug to challenge J&J

Nature abhors a vacuum, and apparently Novartis does, too. The Swiss drugmaker is leaping into the void created by Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE: JNJ) big children’s drug recall by introducing its own children’s pain reliever and fever reducer ahead of schedule. And it’s giving the new product away–up to 250,000 bottles of it–in an effort to wean parents off children’s Tylenol.

Novartis’ new Triaminic-brand product has the same active ingredient as Tylenol–acetaminophen–so it’s a logical substitute for the J&J product. “We accelerated the timing because, given the lack of availability of some over-the-counter children’s analgesic products, we felt it was an important time to offer parents a reliable fever reducer and pain reliever product for their children from a trusted brand,” a Novartis Consumer Health spokeswoman tells the New York Times. Of course, generic children’s acetaminophen is readily available, too, but Novartis apparently is betting that the 50-year-old Triaminic name will sway nervous parents.

The Triaminic giveaway uses the slogan, “restock your medicine cabinet,” in a sly reminder of the Tylenol packages parents may have discarded after the recall was announced.