This week, OTCs are in Action in Indonesia. Last year, Indonesian regulators disallowed cough remedies containing only dextromethorphan as an active ingredient. Although this drug is considered safe and effective, it is widely abused because of its hallucinogenic and dissociative side-effects when taken in huge quantities, and tends to appeal to teenagers.
One of the products that was withdrawn is Komix DT, part of category-leading cough remedy Komix (Bintang Toedjoe / Kalbe). To bolster the brand after this withdrawal, the marketer launched Komix Herbal in 2014. It comes in the same packaging as the withdrawn version, and contains lagundi, liquorice and peppermint oil, among other ingredients. This year, Komix Luo Han Kuo+ was launched. The powders contain extract of luo han kuo fruit, honey and pelargonium, and are designed to be dissolved in water to create a warm drink that relieves symptoms of cough and associated heartburn.
Dextromethorphan is sold as an OTC in the US, but eight states have banned its sale to minors under 18 to discourage abuse by teens. It’s not very surprising that OTC INSIGHT North America’s US market report to be published later this month charts the meteoric rise of Zarbee’s honey-based natural cough medicine, launched about two years ago and now claiming fourth place in the category.
The trend towards naturals has been partly driven by regulation, but also by parents concerned about the safety of OTC medicines they give to their children, causing an inevitable rise in sales of homeopathic and herbal remedies across the globe that shows little sign of abating.