Robitussin is a brand name and registered trademark for both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription cough and cold medicines manufactured by Pfizer. Robitussin products are available in many countries worldwide, though formulations and regulatory standards differ between countries. Robitussin is manufactured on Darbytown Road in Richmond, Virginia, at a site once owned by the drug's developer, AH Robins; its generic versions are manufactured by Qualitest.
Robitussin was originally produced by AH Robins of Richmond, Virginia. AH Robins was purchased by American Home Products (AHP) in the late 1980s. AHP subsequently merged with the Wyeth Corporation. Wyeth placed manufacturing and marketing of the brand under its Whitehall-Robins Healthcare division. Production was taken over by Pfizer when it acquired Wyeth in 2009.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals sold similar cough syrups (differing slightly in flavor, but pharmacologically identical) under the names "2/G" (a reference to "glyceryl guaiacolate," an older name for guaifenesin) for the base expectorant formulation and "2G/DM" for the guaifenesin/dextromethorphan formulation.
Summary of active ingredients
The brand name Robitussin is used for several formulations of cough syrup that contain different active ingredients:
- Acetaminophen is an analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer) found in some formulations of Robitussin CF, as well as Daytime Cold + Flu capsules.
- Codeine (phosphate)
- Codeine is a narcotic antitussive found in Robitussin DAC and Robitussin AC. In the United States, cough formulations containing codeine are usually prescription-only, but the level of regulation can vary from state to state.
- Chlorpheniramine (maleate)
- Chlorpheniramine is an antihistamine found in various children's cough and cold syrups.
- Dextromethorphan (hydrobromide)
- Dextromethorphan is a non-narcotic antitussive found in most OTC Robitussin products.
- Diphenhydramine (hydrochloride)
- Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine found in some nighttime Robitussin formulations.
- Doxylamine (succinate)
- Doxylamine is a sleep aid found in some nighttime Robitussin formulations.
- Guaifenesin is an expectorant found in most Robitussin products designed to relieve cough and chest congestion.
- Menthol is an oral anesthetic found in Robitussin DM lozenges.
- Phenylephrine (hydrochloride)
- Phenylephrine is a decongestant found in Robitussin CF and Daytime Cold + Flu.
- Promethazine (hydrochloride)
- Promethazine is an antihistamine found in older nighttime formulations of Robitussin. Like codeine, it is now prescription-only in the U.S.
- Pseudoephedrine (hydrochloride)
- Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant that has largely been replaced by phenylephrine in OTC formulations of Robitussin, though it may still be available in prescription syrups.
Robitussin DAC/Robitussin AC
Robitussin DAC is used to treat acute cough, mucus buildup and nasal congestion. Because this medicine contains codeine, it is usually only prescribed when a patient has a painful and persistent cough, and/or one that interferes with the patient's sleep cycle. Each 5 mL of Robitussin DAC contains 10 mg of codeine, 100 mg of guaifenesin, and 30 mg of pseudoephedrine.
Robitussin AC is Robitussin DAC without the pseudoephedrine. The taste mimics cherries but is said to have an unpleasant after-taste. The version of Robitussin AC with promethazine is usually flavored peach-mint or grape/menthol. These syrups are purple instead of red. Robitussin AC has a 3.5% alcohol content, and the versions with promethazine have 7% alcohol.
Generic forms are available under the names Cheratussin DAC and Cheratussin AC.
An early reference to Robitussin being used as a recreational drug appears in the 1967 song "Hey Grandma" by Moby Grape. Robitussin (spelled as "Robotussin" to avoid trademark issues) appears in the mc chris song "The Tussin (Robotussin)".
Robitussin was the basis of a running gag by Chris Rock in the 1999 DVD Bigger and Blacker in reference to its use when he was growing up, so the children did not have to go to the doctor. Robitussin is also mentioned often in the show Everybody Hates Chris and is used to treat any ailment that the family members may have.
One of the characters in Douglas Coupland's 2006 novel jPod (and the CBC television show of the same name) uses "Chugatussin" as means of getting high, referring to this as "getting 'tussed up." It appears too in Microserfs, another novel of the same author, when one of the characters is addicted to "PayLess Tussin".
In season 2 of the sitcom 2 Broke Girls, Max refers to Robotussin as the only thing she has ever loved. She also claims to have invented the Robotussin smoothie in 2006, which made that "pretty much a blackout year".
Robitussin is mentioned in Trevor Moore's song "What About Mouthwash?".