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Imodium Prices Skyrocket from Ties to Opioid Epidemic

by Countable | 4.6.18

What’s the story?

  • The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on the anti-diarrheal drug Imodium following reports that some opioid addicts use it as a substitute for methadone. At extremely high doses, loperamide – the active ingredient in Imodium – can produce a high or ease withdrawal symptoms.

  • Imodium – and its generic versions – is commonly prescribed for gastrointestinal issues, including Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroenteritis, and chemotherapy-induced diarrhea. Now, following the FDA’s warning, those who take the over-the-counter drug on a regular basis (including, full-disclosure, this writer), are finding price increases of 553 percent.

  • In November 2017, 400 caplets of generic Imodium sold on Amazon for $13.77. Currently, 400 caplets of Kirkland Signature Anti-Diarrheal Loperamide Hydrochloride 2 MG Caplets sell for $89.98.

What is the FDA saying?

  • In their safety announcement published on January 30, 2018, the FDA wrote:

"To foster safe use of the over-the counter (OTC) anti-diarrhea drug loperamide, the [FDA] is working with manufacturers to use blister packs or other single dose packaging and to limit the number of doses in a package."

  • The FDA has also made it harder to order bulk amounts of Imodium online. Many retailers have dropped selling the product; what used to link to Member's Mark Anti-Diarrheal Loperamide HCl 2mg (2 bottles (400 caplets)) on Amazon now brings up an error page.

How many people are abusing Imodium?

  • While the FDA has not been forthcoming about the number of people abusing loperamide, a 2017 review published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine found four cases of loperamide used in isolation – and 19 cases of loperamide used with another drug - that resulted in death.

  • At the same time, studies have found that 150 Americans die each year from Tylenol’s most-active ingredient, acetaminophen.

What do you think?

Will limiting over-the-counter medication help in combating the opioid crisis? Should the FDA regulate additional medications with the potential for abuse? Or does regulating OTC medication only hurt legitimate consumers by driving up prices? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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