Managing Access to Dextromethorphan: Cost Implications of a Potential Over-the-Counter to Prescription-Only Conversion

October 12, 2016

The majority of over-the-counter (“OTC”) cough medicines used to treat the common cold contain an active ingredient called dextromethorphan (“DXM”). DXM is subject to abuse by minors, which has raised concerns among policy-makers. In response to this, 12 states currently prohibit the sale of DXM OTC medicines to under-18 patients. Government officials have tried to balance the positives of OTC access against the negatives of potential abuse. This paper aims to inform this discussion by quantifying various costs that would result if products with DXM were converted from OTC to Rx. Included are the costs of incremental physician visits, of having to miss work while going to the physician’s office, of higher DXM drugs prices under Rx availability, and of switching to alternative medication that may be more expensive. To read more, click the link below. 
Emily Estus, Natalie Nah, and Berin Senne also contributed to this paper.

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