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Imodium Prices Skyrocket from Ties to Opioid Epidemic

by Countable | Updated on 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

Related Reading

(Photo from Imodium.com)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(83)
  • Jennifer
    04/07/2018
    ···

    This is a knee-jerk, emotional reaction and what government overreach looks like. ANY drug—OTC or controlled substance—used incorrectly can cause death. Please stop using some instances of misuse to hurt law-abiding users! Sound familiar? Please libs and Dems, notice the similarity and apply this to the 2nd amendment. The logical people will see there is no difference.

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  • KansasTamale
    04/07/2018
    ···

    When is the Congress going to put a % CAP OF PROFIT ON EVERY MEDICATION. The price gouging that is occurring in Big Pharma is DEPLORABLE. As a person with no thyroid who HAS to take thyroid medication and the reg meds don’t work. I found out yesterday, the med I can take is $422 for 84 pills. How fair is that. I could die without a thyroid or medication and they are charging $5 a pill. There is no way it costs that much to make those tiny pills. Robber Barons.

    Like (51)
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  • David
    04/07/2018
    ···

    Why, why, why? Every time a fool, a kook, a jerk, or a criminal does what they do, the so called solution is to punish and restrict the thoughtful responsible law-abiding citizen. Please stop this insanity and direct the punishment and restrictions to those actually responsible.

    Like (43)
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  • Nora
    04/07/2018
    ···

    So everyone else has to suffer because the government refuses to address the actual problem?! The amount of people overdosing on loperamide is minuscule. The amount of people suffering from chronic conditions like IBS, Gastritis, Endometriosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, and chronic diarrhea that depend on products like Imodium AD? It’s well into the millions.

    Like (40)
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  • Jeanne
    04/07/2018
    ···

    As much as I appreciate the goal of reducing opioid abuse, my patients who undergo cancer therapy are not abusing loperamide. How about a more realistic approach? A few doses OTC. More than 8 doses requires a prescription.

    Like (24)
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  • Gerald
    04/07/2018
    ···

    If you think profit based healthcare is better than single payer then quit whining, take out loans to stay alive, join the largest cause of bankruptcy (medical expense), and jump up and down in joy as the ACA is ripped apart. Buy up pharmaceutical stocks and gain wealth at exploiting the sick and re-elect the congressional representatives who accept massive donations from the drug industry. Many foolishly asked for this exact thing so either accept responsibility for where we are, or wake up and change it in 2018.

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  • James
    04/07/2018
    ···

    I'm sick of being punished for the behavior of addicts, it's out of control now, I can't get the pain meds, I need for breakthrough pain, to live some semblance of a normal life, I did not bring my chronic pain on myself, nor my condition, now cancer patients have to writhe in pain, this is bullshit, addicts need treatment, stop making the rest of the class suffer, these people are committing gradual suicide, by their own hands, they will get a hold of something anything to continue this destruction, lets' raise prices of tide pods, let's raise prices of bug spray, how is this fair? I'm fucking sick of it. drug addicts steal money, it's not going to matter to them, but make all consumers pay higher prices idiots

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  • burrkitty
    04/08/2018
    ···

    Just decriminalizing possession of all drugs already. There is a proportion of the population that is going to be addicted to something no matter what. Legalize everything, kill the black market, tax it and use the revenue for rehabilitation. Prohibition never works. It didn’t work for alcohol. It didn’t work for marijuana. It’s never even been tried for tobacco which kills many. So how about we end America's own massive failure of a drug war, which is still sputtering steadily along at a cost of trillions a year? Let’s take Portugal’s route instead. By every metric that isn’t from the fear mongers in the DEA it’s been a success. Let’s be smarter.

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  • OldTimer
    04/07/2018
    ···

    Never miss a chance to skyrocket prices due to a crisis especially if it doesn’t directly involve you. The largest percentage of people dying from opioid overdoses are dying from overdose of Carfentanil. At least when I get off of CNN that is what I read. There is no need for Imodium to skyrocket in prices other than the producers just want t do a bit of price gouging.

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  • M
    04/07/2018
    ···

    There has got to be a better solution to preventing misuse of Imodium other than raising the price drastically. That is an excuse for the drug company to enrich themselves at the expense of people like me with IBS, Crones and other related diseases. Make it by prescription only and restrict quantity.

    Like (16)
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  • RadicalModerate
    04/08/2018
    ···

    Cannabis can ease opiate withdrawals and is effective for pain relief. States with legal and accessible cannabis have far fewer drug overdoses.

    Like (15)
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  • Larry
    04/07/2018
    ···

    Knee jerk politics at its best! Everything is being abused and everything will kill you. Its like the Saturday Night Live report way back in the ‘70’s - “Scientists have determined that saliva causes cancer..... but only when swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time”

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  • Michael
    04/07/2018
    ···

    So instead of bringing the drug companies to task for flooding the market with drugs and fostering an environment that pushes the prescribing of them, the government body charged with regulating is creating an environment where the drug companies will continue to get richer off of the mess they created by punishing the consumer. We’ve been getting hosed like this for decades now. Why haven’t we revolted against this insane and self serving government? And on a side note: an addict is going to find their high. No manner of regulation or laws, rules or studies is going to change that. And the laws they’ve been pushing lately (this, ban on kratom) only help to keep the dollars flowing to the corrupt criminals who are pushing the problem in the first place.

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  • John
    04/07/2018
    ···

    This is a perfect example of “we have to do something. We can’t address the cause of drug addiction. We can’t stop heroin dealers. So let’s do this and say we’re fixing the problem.” Some people will abuse anything. Loperamide became the safer alternative to true opioid drugs like paregoric or derivatives live lomotil. It is not an opium drug. True, there’s no reason to sell mass quantities but when drug stores stop selling it or doctors stop prescribing it because they are afraid of the authorities, we’ve gone to far. Rationing by price is just crazy.

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  • MinnesotaMom
    04/07/2018
    ···

    Is this a case of a safe & effective product being tainted by association w the opioid epidemic? Of unfair profiteering by another pharma co.? I don't use this medication, but I do use pseudoephedrine for my sinuses, so those who have been swept up in a tempest not of their making have my sympathies.

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  • SneakyPete
    04/07/2018
    ···

    Imodium - “Price Gouging” by “Johnson & Johnson” and others? Are we, seeing a case that Price gouging, a pejorative term referring to when a seller spikes the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair, and is considered exploitative, potentially to an unethical extent, taking place? Sure sounds like it to me. Are companies like Johnson & Johnson and others, taking advantage of the The Food and Drug Administration cracking down on the anti-diarrheal drug Imodium,following reports that some opioid addicts use it as a substitute, for methadone. 4*7*18.

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  • S
    04/09/2018
    ···

    This hurts those who have medical needs. It is the drug companies looking for cheap profits that have raised the price. First big pharma peddles the opioids and now they raise prices on something legitimate users, and by far the most users need, in order to score once again from opioids. The medical needs of the overwhelming majority of users requires first consideration. Opioid addiction is in a class by itself and raising prices on an anti - diarrheal OTC doesn’t address the issue unless, of course, you are a drug company wanting to make as much money as you can as fast as you can!

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  • Jim2423
    04/08/2018
    ···

    Welcome to Free Enterprise, without government control over even over the counter medications the people are at the mercy of big business. Profits mean way more than someone’s life or illness. It is surprising how normal folks have to pay the penalty for idiots of this country. From opioid addiction to mass shootings. A few ruin things for everyone. Sad.

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  • Rosalind
    04/07/2018
    ···

    Mary Lou Muntz, a wise former member of the Wisconsin legislature, years ago said “reactive legislation is always bad legislation”. That has not changed, there are just more examples of emotionally generated, bad legislation these days.

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  • iRyan
    04/08/2018
    ···

    How in the world does this help combat drug addiction? Did putting allergy medicine behind the counter stop the meth problem? It hasn’t where I lived. It appears to me that this will have much more negative affects on people who legitimately use this product than those who aren’t. How do we keep coming up with plans like this? This is the same terrible idea as the one proposed to increase the cost of firearms and ammunition thinking that will stop criminals and crazy people from shooting other people. How about we address the actual problems of addiction and mental health verses implementing plans that do not work but penalize the majority of the population that are normal law abiding citizens?

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