Robitussin is a North American brand-name cough syrup currently produced by the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer 2. The active ingredients in Robitussin DM are dextromethorphan HBr, a cough suppressant approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration in 1982, and guaifenesin, a mucus expectorant approved in 2002, according to Drugs.com 234. According to the product website, this over-the-counter oral medication is cherry-flavored, offered in 100 or 250 mL bottles, and used to relieve coughs caused by colds and bronchitis. In addition to the two active ingredients, Robitussin DM also contains many inactive ingredients 2.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
According to DrugLib.com, dextromethorphan is classed as an analgesic and anti-trussive agent used to relieve coughs due to colds/bronchitis, but not chronic coughs that occur with smoking, asthma or emphysema 4. Dextromethorphan relieves cough by suppressing the cough reflex in the brain, according to Drugs.com 24. One tablespoon of Robitussin DM is equivalent to 10 mg of dextromethorphan 24.
According to Drugs.com, guaifenesin belongs to a class of drugs known as expectorants 2. It works by thinning and loosening mucus in the airways, clearing congestion and lubricating the lungs, thereby making it easier to breathe. One tablespoon of Robitussin DM is equivalent to 100 mg of guaifenesin 2.
According to Drugs.com, Robitussin DM contains three ingredients that can generally be called binders: propylene glycol, sucralose and high-fructose corn syrup 23. Binders keep all the ingredients intact. Binders are usually sugars, cellulose or modified cellulose, notes the "Dictionary of Pharmaceutical Medicine."
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Robitussin DM contains glycerin, which according to the "Dictionary of Pharmaceutical Medicine," serves as a thickening agent, a humectant and a solvent 12. High-fructose corn syrup can also act as a thickener by increasing the viscosity of a liquid.
Another ingredient in Robitussin DM is sodium benzoate, which acts as a preservative because it has the ability to retard mold, yeast and some bacteria, according to the "Dictionary of Pharmaceutical Medicine." Anhydrous citric acid is another ingredient which functions as a natural preservative, as does sodium citrate, which is a salt-form antiseptic 2. Glycerin may also help preserve foods and liquids.
Robitussin DM cough syrup is offered as cherry flavored, which is labeled as “flavoring” within the ingredients 2. The high-fructose corn syrup, sucralose and glycerin add to the syrup’s sweetness, according to the "Dictionary of Pharmaceutical Medicine." For coloring, Robitussin DM contains FD & C Red No 12. 40 and FD & C Yellow No. 6 dyes. The final ingredient is purified water, which makes up the vast majority of the syrup's content.
- Robitussin DM cough syrup is offered as cherry flavored, which is labeled as “flavoring” within the ingredients 2.
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- “Dictionary of Pharmaceutical Medicine”; G. Nahler et al; 2009
- Drugs.com: Robitussin
- Robitussin.com: Our Products
- DrugLib.com: dextromethorphan
- American Addiction Centers. How Long Does Codeine Stay in Your System? Updated December 10, 2019.
- MedlinePlus. Codeine overdose. Updated October 8, 2020.
- American Addiction Centers. Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Codeine. Updated November 25, 2019.
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Some Medicines and Driving Don’t Mix. Updated December 17, 2019.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Ask the doctor: Why does alcohol affect women differently? 2013.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Alcohol and age: A risky combination.
- American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Lab Tests Online. Drug Abuse Testing. Updated November 20, 2019.
Aironius French has been writing professionally since 1999, when he became a clinical chiropractic physician. His health-related articles have appeared in the newspapers "Calgary Sun," "Calgary Herald," "Ajo Corridor Times" and "Rocky Point Times" and in "Penasco" magazine. French holds a Bachelor of Science in physical anthropology and human development from the University of Calgary and a doctorate from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.