Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why I Hate Meth Heads

I don’t hate meth heads because they endanger entire neighborhoods with their toxic fumes. I don’t hate meth heads because they destroy the lives of abusers and their families. I don’t even hate meth heads because they made all the decent cold medicine disappear behind the Rx counter. I hate meth heads for one very intense, passionate, loathing, and entirely selfish reason… HAA—CHU!

I lived 27 years of my life oblivious to the hell of allergy sufferers. Now that I have settled down, bought a home in the desert, and started to grow roots, my world has turned upside-down. Juniper is my nemesis, and Albuquerque is surrounded by it. In an attempt to survive, I followed the same path millions of allergy suffers take: two months of Alavert (to no avail), two months of Claritin (complete waste of time), four months of Zyrtec (you’re joking, right?), and even three months of a self-prescribed cocktail of Benadryl and Sudafed, all of which proved pointless. These “remedies” might as well have been sugar pills. So, I went out on a limb and tried the “alternative medicine” tract. I tried Chinese herbs and acupuncture, I even dreadlocked my hair, burned strange candles, and prayed to my living room papa-san chair (I mistook Wicca for wicker). HAA-CHU!

I investigated allergy shots, but was quickly rejected as an ineligible candidate. To add salt to my wound, I am immunodeficient. When immune B cells and T cells are activated by an invader, they replicate into more antigen-fighting cells and something called
long-lived memory cells. Long-lived memory cells are responsible for remembering exactly how the invader was destroyed, so the next time he comes around looking for some action—SMASH! WHAM! KABOOM! The long-lived memory cells knock him out of the picture. My immune system suffers from having “no anamnestic response,” or rather, no short-term memory. I lack the adaptive quality that healthy immune systems boast. My body cannot recall how to fight off the diseases and infections it has already conquered. So, every winter I catch a cold, take an unusually long amount of time to get over it, and then quite often catch the same cold again a week or so later. This same scenario is what prevents allergy shots from working in my body. The allergen is injected, my B and T cells do a little dance, and then…HAA CHU!

One blessed day, Providence led me behind the counter to something marvelous. Heralding angels rejoiced as the register tallied my bill, a $10.79 purchase of
Drixoral. Schering-Plough Healthcare Products are the makers of Drixoral, an over-the-counter allergy and cold medicine that contains dexbrompheniramine (antihistamine) and pseudoephedrine (decongestant). Amidst the worst of juniper season, I finally found relief—as well as a little drowsiness (so what if I sleep from March until July? At least I can finally sleep). One pill allowed me to function in the world—albeit in a misty stupor. I was no longer sneezing. The irritated, itchy roof of my mouth went back to being unnoticed. My lungs also joined the land of the breathing, finding relief from asthma. Just like Moses and the Red Sea, my seemingly endless mucous parted, allowing my sinuses the forgotten sensation of inhalation. And, last but not least, the dark circles under my blood-shot eyes returned to a healthy pink.

All was fine and dandy until I took the last pill in my Drixoral package today. I stopped by Walmart’s local pharmacy on my way home from work and wasn’t worried that they were out of stock. I tried Walgreens—also out of stock, another Walgreens, then another and another. Six stores later, I realized Drixoral no longer existed within Albuquerque anymore—at least not in pharmacies (we have a rather large population of meth houses). The rumor circulating around town and beyond (my friend’s step-father is a pharmacist in St. George, UT) was that the Drixoral has been discontinued to prevent the illegal manufacturing of crystal methamphetamine.

A few startling quick facts about the people ruining my life:

1. One gram of their meth costs about $260, a price that has raised since last year’s $160 per gram…price gougers. Per pound, it costs $12,000 to $16,000 at the wholesale level.

2. It is a nationwide law that a valid I.D. and signature are required to buy cold and flu medications containing pseudoephedrine. Pharmaceutical companies compensated by introducing a string of new cold remedies containing phenylephrine instead, which can’t be used to make meth.

3. Some of the effects of meth abuse include: paranoia, brain damage, hallucinations, hypothermia, convulsions, cardiovascular collapse, and a condition called “tweaking.” Tweaking is when the abuser cannot sleep for days, is extremely irritable, and becomes violent without provocation.

4. A few of the warning signs that there is a meth house near you include: odor of solvents, blacked out windows, activity late at night, iodine-stained kitchen or bathroom, and excessive trash. Cleaning up a meth lab can cost the government up to $10,000.

Had I been privy to the memo forecasting the removal of Drixoral from the market, I would have loaded up on the product—even at the risk of appearing like a junkie myself. Is it fair to take such a needed product off the market because of a handful of drug dealers and producers?

So, I took to my next weapon—the internet—and searched for Drixoral for hours (this is a matter of life or death, you realize). I found nothing on Scherling-Plough’s website (
http://www.schering- plough.com/schering_plough/pc/allergy_respiratory.jsp) claiming they were taking the drug off the market, but there were no links to order the product either. I finally decided to bite the bullet and call Schering-Plough to get the low-down on Drixoral myself. Straight from the horse’s mouth: Drixoral will be off the market for one year as Scherling-Plough relocates their manufacturing plant. I made them promise they would not discontinue the product. We spit on our hands and pinky swore…well, as best as two people can do over the phone. They took an oath and a Bible was involved. I think I promised the pharma company one of my future children... But, at least I know Drixoral, my saving grace, will return.

I guess I don’t have to hate meth heads anymore…


MLO said...

The amazing thing is if you ask anyone who actually does enforcement or has to monitor this - it would make more sense to make these prescription meds again. It would be cheaper and more effective. True, Drixoral becaome OTC about 30 years ago - but, hey, our misguided politicians think that the drug war is winnable. (It really isn't.)

So, the newest victims of the governments nonsensical war on drugs are allergy sufferers.

Anonymous said...

I am a user of drixoral. Only thing that works for me too. So I ask-what are all us allergy sufferers (that drixoral is the only remedy) to do for the next year!!! I was soo ticked the other day when I went for to get another box that I told my mother - cigarette smokers sue tobacco companies - I think I should sue Drixoral's maker! (ha ha) This is so unfair! Seriously, it takes a year to relocate?

Anonymous said...

While it's true the US plant is relocating, Schering Canada has not ceased production and you can order this non-prescription drug over the internet without breaking any laws; e.g., at www.canadadrugs.com

dr_dredd said...

I hate the way the wagers of the drug war treat legitimate patients and physicians like criminals (this goes for opiates as well as pseudoephedrine). It seems like they're trying to overcompensate for the fact that their methods aren't working.

Unknown said...

I agree! I have taken it for years and now I have to suffer because of the drug culture. It was once a prescription med but they insurance companies made it non-prescription so they would not have to pay for it. Now I too am suffering because of the insanity of the situation. Of course considering the kind of morons in office these days I am not surprised. DISGUSTED AND ANGRY.

dr_dredd said...

I think we should all tape ourselves hacking, coughing, and sneezing. Then we pipe it into the House and Senate chambers in Congress and lock the doors. I predict one or two hours, tops, before the horrible noise has our elected representatives begging to change the law. :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one shocked by this news about Drixoral. I've tried many other products over the years and Drixoral is the only thing that works consistently for me. I've also called and registered a complaint - I think it's irresponsible to take a drug off the market without notifying people.

Anonymous said...

Wow... after finding WalMart out of Drixoral the other night, I wasn't concerned. But my mom had to go out today and decided to stop at a pharmacy to get some for me. They were out, and so is everybody else in town. That's when I went online and found your blog.

Drixoral is the only thing that works consistently for me, too, and I don't even get side effects with it. I wonder what I'll look like when I run out of all of my Drixoral (including the box in my hurricane supplies) in... oh, let's see... about two months, maybe three, if I take it only when I have an allergy attack coming on.

Never mind, I know what I'll look like, I'll look and feel like I have the flu. The perpetual flu. Thanks, Shering-Plough.

As much as I'd love to trust and buy meds from Canada, I've heard too much about them varying in content and quality control as opposed to meds from here. I'll just survive as well as I can on Chlor-Trimeton.

Mom did say that the pharmacist at WalMart told her that I can use a couple of different meds together to end up with basically the same thing as Drixoral. I'll be talking to that pharmacist soon. If the info is useful, I'll post it here.

Meanwhile, I'll be meting out my remaining Drixoral with an eye-dropper.

Ceanothus said...

At least I am not alone - having had the SAME experience as all of you (going from store to store, no one at pharmacy counters knowing what's going on -and then going to the Schering-Plough website to find that the Drixoral logo has been removed from SP's circle of products!! @@$%$*!!) At least Em saved me a phone call. Then again, the more calls they get...

I might even try the canada route - who knows, it's not a prescription product. Gawd, the ONLY thing that's worked for 30 years that hasn't put me to sleep. Long-acting Sudafed doesn't work as well for the congestion for me - and I can get some antihistamines to work - but Drixoral is my friend. Remember the little bottles of 100 tablets? Sigh.

Thank you - and what a great blog. Nice to have discovered it.


Ceanothus said...

One more thing - and thanks, anonymous - Drixoral is indeed available from canadadrugs.com - so I ordered a box of 30 (or 3 boxes of 10, not sure which) and we'll see if it works. The price was about $20 U.S.; better than having to wait a year!


Anonymous said...

I spent the evening going all over town, pharmacy to pharmacy, looking for more Drixoral, my salvation. Allergies, colds, and/or the current bronchitis, it's the only thing that works for me. I can't believe I gave my teenaged son my last one for his cold this afternoon. Argh!!!! I should have locked it in a glass box with a little hammer next to it. I think I'm going to have to order some from Canada, too. I can't wait a year.

Anonymous said...

A follow up to my previous comment. I googled several of the Canadian pharmacies and canadapharmacy.com has boxes of 20 for $11 (max 3) with shipping for $5 and there is a 5% coupon if you enter the code cpsave5 when prompted. This will save you about $1.65.
One of the other pharmacies, canadamedicineshop.com is $10 a box, (max 3), but their shipping is $10. I found a 10% off coupon on your first order, code 10CMS (I haven't tried it.), but it's still a few cents cheaper to buy it from the first place.
I noticed that a lot of people must have realized that Drixoral isn't available in the U.S. now and are making a run for it in Canada. Some of the on-line pharmacies don't have more than one size, or don't have any at all now.
Hope this helps some other sneezers. :-)

Anonymous said...

I went to a local compounding pharmacist who said he could make a Drixoral equivalent mixture and pour it into capsules, but he could not find a source for "dexbrompheniramine" which is the magic ingredient that we all need.

Does anyone know of a source for "dexbrompheniramine"?

Steve Shea said...

The key with Drixoral is the antihistamine, dexbrompheniramine maleate. No other product has it, as far as I have found, as far as Google has indexed, and as far as every pharmacist I've spoken to has been able to find.

The closest (for short time and partial relief) is Chlor-Trimeton, which has chlorpheniramine maleate as its antihistamine. It only comes in 4-hour pills, not the sleek, green 12 hours of time-released relief we're all used to. There are generics of chlorpheniramine maleate, for instance under the Target label, and at Walgreens.

I'm worried Schering-Plough won't live up to this pinky-swear. The spokesperson had no information for me when I called in March, and the website is blank, and there's no press release. I'm suspicious.

Oh, and I sneezed loud enough to rattle the foundations at least a dozen times while writing this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information! I just placed an order at canadapharmacy.com myself. I've relied on this info for 20+ years, as has my mother.
I'm skeptical that the US plant will actually put it back on the market, but I'm very willing to buy from Canada....

At least with the internet, we know we are not alone.
I do suggest we each write a snail mail letter to the US manufacturer telling them we NEED this product back on the market.

Em said...

Thanks for all the helpful comments. I ordered three 20-packs from Canada, and finally (sigh) found relief. Maybe I'll order some more and stick 'em on ebay at $100 a pop? What can I say? I'm a drug dealer in the making. In the meantime, let's hear it for Canada, eh?

Anonymous said...

Well, I finally got to WalMart, and the other pharmacist was there, but I talked to him about it anyway. He didn't know what combination the pharmacist my mom had spoken with may have had in mind, since there is no other medication with the same antihistamine ingredient. He suggested to just combine real Sudafed with any of the other antihistamines, though he admitted that Drixoral had been one of the best ones available.

I'm avoiding ordering from Canada... at least for now. I've taken only two of my Drixorals since this whole thing started. One day I paid with a sinus headache, which I hadn't had in a while. It was right in the middle of math with my daughter, too (I homeschool), so that was most pleasant.

The first pharmacist is on vacation. When he comes back, I'll ask him, just in case he has some brilliant idea he hadn't told the other guy. If so, I'll post it, but I'm not holding my breath.


I just hope they really do start producing it again next year!

Ceanothus said...

Well, I received my order from canadadrugs.com one week after placing it. I might try canadapharmacy.com the next time - their prices seem to be somewhat lower. HOWEVER - I am now in possession of 25 green Drixoral tablets...and will gauge my next order accordingly! I have mixed feelings about ordering prescription drugs from Canada simply to save $$ - but I have no compunction at all about ordering an OTC product that, for whatever reason, is (I hope only) temporarily discontinued in the U.S.


Em said...

Hi Miss M,

I'm sorry the pharmacist wasn't able to help you form a similar concoction to Drixoral. I was frustrated to learn nothing else contains Drixoral's "key" ingredient--the same ingredient that seems to be the only thing that works for me, too.

THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE in any way shape or form--but my friend's dad (the pharmacist mentioned in my blog) suggested I try taking Allegra for a few weeks and then add quick-acting Benedryl when VERY sympomatic to the mix. Allegra all the time plus Benedryl as needed.

I scoffed at the suggestion, but if buying drugs from Canada isn't your thing, you might ask your pharmacist about this man's advice?

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

i too ordered the max from canadapharmacy.com but thought i would continue looking for another store with a fair deal. i found https://www.getcanadiandrugs.com/index.php and got 6 boxes of 20 for a little more than $12 each.
my doctor just gave me a script for allegra-d, it works pretty well (not nearly like the drix), but i thought i could alternate the two (both are 12hr) so my drix will last longer.

i started taking drixoral when it was still a doctors script, mid-70's...im so glad i found this blog!!

thanks and good luck everyone!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. I have been suffering myself and looking all over for drixoral too. I even asked a pharmasist if there is anything equivalent to it and he said yes. Now I know to go back to that pharmacy and try to purchase that product and give it a try. When I find out what the product is I will blog back and give you the name and if it works. Thank you again. dancerdi67

Anonymous said...

The worst thing is, when I am suffering un-treated allergy symptoms, I am MORE DROWSY than when using Drixoral; sometimes so much so that I'd think twice about getting behind the wheel of the car. I, too, never had allergies all my life, until I was preggy with my kid, late 70s (before the brilliant minds figured out what terrifying things could be done with/to a cold pill for a quick cheap high...*sigh* just think what problems might be solved if they only used their "talent" for good)

Anyway, I ordered my illicit supplies---er, MEDICINE-- from getcanadadrugs.com, TEN DAYS AGO!!!! I was confused that the photo they had on their website didn't match the ingredients claim, so i called the 800 number and spoke with a girl who SAID "i am looking right at the box you will be sent and it says it contains [the original ingredients]. So, I said, I will go order it online, so I will have a record of the purchase on my VISA account, and in the off-chance that it is different than I think I am gonna get, can I return it, how does that work? She replied they will accept return of any unopened product for refund if there's any problem. Yada yada.

So, let me remind you that this was TEN DAYS AGO....this morning there's a message on the thingy, "Sorry but we have to refund your purchase as we are out of stock... please call this number if there is any problem."

I cad breeb!!!!!

So what am I doing here, replying to "EM's" blog, when I could be trying another source? (omigod, "source" sounds like druggy talk, lol)

Thanks for the very entertaining and imformative post, EM. Everyone wish me success, please?

Anonymous said...

And by-the-by...if Shering-Plough Canada plant is not closed up, only the US location is relocating, then why can't US get supply from Canada plant???? My guess, call me crazy, is that US is trying to completely outlaw anything with Pseudoephedrine in it.

I wonder if writing my congressman-woman would do any good? Sounds like too much trouble. ScheringPlough must know we Drixoral Users are just another kind of "addict" that can be manipulated and messed with, and that eventually we will be willingly paying $50 a package. And, just like current gas prices, will be YEARNING for the $50 pks, when it goes up to $75!

Woe ids be.

Em said...

You, my friend, are hilarious. Let me know if you are able to locate Drixoral elsewhere in Canada--I got a 20 pack I'll sell for $400.

Ha! More like $600. I am saving that thing like it's gold for the next Juniper season.

I wish you luck!


Ceanothus said...

I am delighted to report that I wrote to Schering-Plough (even addressed my letter to the CEO!!!) and received not one, but two letters in response. The first letter acknowledged receipt of my letter, and that my request had been forwarded to customer relations. The second was from David Stidham, Manager, Consumer Relations. For your reading enjoyment, here's the verbatim text, without the paragraph breaks:

Thank you for contacting Schering-Plough Healthcare, makers of Drixoral Cold & Allergy and other fine products. I am in receipt of your leter to Mr. Hassan and have been asked to respond on his behalf. As your letter stated, we are in the process of changing our manufacturing location for our product. Although multiple solutions are being pursued, it is unlikely these will result in shipping the product for at least the balance of 2008. Our Vice President of Sales mailed a letter on May 15, 2008, to all retail customers, indicating our need to move our production facility. Your suggesting for listing this on our website is being shared with the Drixoral Marketing Manager. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. We will notify you by letter once the product is available. We appreciate your patience with us during this period and thank you for being such a long and loyal Drixoral Cold and Allergy supporter. Sincerely...etc.

Now, it may have been the "Esq." after my name that got their attention...I didn't make a big deal about it, but these days I'm sure that proactive action against any sort of litigation is wise. I would hardly consider litigation in this case, for all kinds of reasons - I'm more pleased at the direct courtesy of the response, even though there's obvious vagueness (multiple solutions are being pursued). The biggest reason litigation would be stupid? We'd have to wait LONGER to get our precious Drixoral back! And apparently SP did notify "retail" customers (there's probably dusty collections of the May 18 letter at Walmart, CVS, Rite-Aid, Costco, etc. headquarters, but the message probably never trickled down to pharmacy buyers and managers. Sigh.

The bottom line here is that I received two courteous letters from Big Pharma management, and expect a third. There's a human face there after all. Who knew? (Okay, so I'm a glass-is-half-full person. I admit it).

And in the meantime, canadapharmacy.com has great service too - ordered 3 boxes of 20 a couple of weeks ago and received my order in a week.

Happy sneezing, all!

Anonymous said...

I am relieved to learn that the Drixoral scarcity is temporary. However, a year is a long time. I am making do with a 4 hour OTC combo from Walmart which works better than Claritin and Zyrtec do for me. Can't wait for the 12-hr wonder to return!

Anonymous said...

As a customer of Drixoral for close to 30 years that depends on it to function I'm appalled that
Drixoral Cold & Allergy has been discontinued (again I might add) leaving us all in a living hell for at least a year.
Shame on Schering-Plough for showing a complete lack of regard for the welfare of those that depend on Drixoral.
Their ethics are no better than a dope dealer peddling on the street, in for the money with no concern for the end user's suffering.

Now the good part, my research notes into alternate sources of relief.

Ingredients Drixoral Cold & Allergy: Dexbrompheniramine maleate (6mg) + Pseudoephedrine Hcl(120 mg)

Name Brand Products with the same ingredients as Drixoral:

Drixoral Generics..
Generic Drug: Dexbrompheniramine-Pseudoephedrine
Brand Names: 12 Hour Antihistamine/Decongestant, 12 Hour Cold, 12 Hour Nasal Tablet, Antihistamine 12 Hour, Antihistamine-Decongestant 12 Hour, Desihist SA, Dexaphen SA, Dexbrompheniramine-Pseudoephedrine, Dexophed, Disobrom, Disophrol, Dixaphedrine, Drexophed SR, Drixomed, Drixoral, Drixoral Cold and Allergy, Duomine, Pharmadrine

Active Ingredients: dexbrompheniramine maleate; pseudoephedrine sulfate
Dose Form Description: tablet, extended release
Route Description: oral
Dexbrompheniramine-Pseudoephedrine Strength Description: 6 mg-120 mg

Which medication manufacturers are producing Dexbrompheniramine-Pseudoephedrine?
Circle Pharmaceuticals Inc, Perrigo, L. Company

Take this information to your doctor or pharmacist and have them order which ever works best for you.
I'm looking into trying the Lodrane D in the 12 and 24 hour formulas.
As for me and mine, we'll never buy another Schering-Plough product.

Rick in OKC

Ceanothus said...

They're on to us. Econ 101 has hit Canadian Drixoral providers - Canadapharmacy.com's price for a box of 20 rose from about $13.00/box to more than $44.00/box; Canadadrugs.com's price rose somewhat less - $9.99 U.S. for a box of 10; seems to me it was around $8 or so when I ordered last June. But I find Canadapharmacy's pricing rather excessive! Might almost use the "gouging" word - I called to inquire whether the website price was accurate, and learned that it was - they're apparently receiving lots of orders. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

My doctor suggested Zyrtec. It's costly, about $30 for 45 pills. It's 24 hour time release so you only have to take one a day. I tried them out of desperation thinking they wouldn't work as well as Drixoral. I was wrong. They're just as good if not better than Drixoral. No drowiness, one pill a day, I was very pleased. I suggest giving them a try before paying insane prices from Canada.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rick in OKC: Shame on Schering-Plough for showing a complete lack of regard for the welfare of those that depend on Drixoral.
Their ethics are no better than a dope dealer peddling on the street, in for the money with no concern for the end user's suffering.
Schering Plough's website now says no Drixoral for 2009 but they make sure to push their ineffectual Claritin. They are very consumer unfriendly and I say BOYCOTT all of their products including Dr. Scholls and Coppertone.

Unknown said...

I started using Drixoral in the early '60's as a perscription. It was as good as Dimetapp. You could buy 100 Dimetapp for $10 OTC so I switched to them. After 30 years they took them off the market because "I was going to have a stroke". NO, NO, they were too cheap- so I went back to Drixorall, they were OTC by then. Then they put them behind the counter. Since my husband and I both took 2 a day we had to get a prescription from the doctor to buy the quantity we needed (that's how you beat the system and there's no tax on prescriptions, but there is on OTC. Wal Mart sold 20 for $8.99!
Now I'm miserable - my doctor said to get rid of my animals, but I got rid of that doctor instead!! Shearing-Plough is in no hurry to start making Drixoral again - they are trying to force us to buy their more expensive pills Claritin. If they suffered from allergies they would bring back the Drixoral, the Claritin are as good as Sudefed, nothing!
I REFUSE TO LET CANADA RIP ME OFF!! I'll suffer and keep my $$ before letting them steal from me!
maker of Moose A. Moose & Zee

Anonymous said...

PERHAPS Drixoral's content is dangerous to your health and they know it. so they are dropping it before the legal fallout begins. Or perhaps to make it pollutes our environment in someway. Or maybe the cost is such that the other maleate is virtually pennies comparably.