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Subject: Re: guaifenesin
From: (Steve Dyer)
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2000 05:54:42 GMT

In article <>,
 <> wrote:
  >Why is guaifenesin sometimes sold OTC and sometimes prescription only.
  >It is available OTC in various combinations (with other drugs) but I have
  >never seen it on the shelf alone.

[Speaking only for the US...]

Robitussin syrup (not -DM and not whatever the decongestant variant is called)
contains only guaifenesin as its active ingredient.

  >I understand that it is available direct
  >from the pharmacist who keeps it "under the counter" but why is it not on
  >the shelf with the other cold remedies.

I suspect you'd either get a blank stare or a pointer to a bottle of
Robitussin or the generic equivalent in aisle 5 if you asked for the
"under the counter" version of guaifenesin.

  >Also why are the larger doses "prescription only".

Don't expect this stuff to make sense.  Generally it means that a
drug manufacturer that prefers to promote its products directly to MDs
applied for and was granted a NDA for a nostrum that could be sold OTC
provided they added OTC-appropriate labelling.  But such labelling would
defeat the purpose of the "product", which is an OTC drug that requires
a prescription.  They make a lot more $$$ on that, don't need to spend
$$$ marketing to the public, and the patient gets the satisfaction of
buying a prescription medication rather than being cheated out of a
prescription when his doctor tells him to buy a bottle of Robitussin
at Walgreens. :-)

It makes more sense to ask why the FDA allows this stuff to be sold as
an "expectorant" in the first place, since there's not a whole lot of
evidence of its efficacy.  Indeed, the notion that there is a class of
orally-effective drugs that could be called "expectorants" is rather

Steve Dyer

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