Grad Math: Generic Tussin’ vs. Real-tussin


In step with physicists who believe their opinions qualify as “expert” at all scientific fields (not to name any names), I’ve recently self diagnosed myself with a post-nasal drip. (It has taken me about two and a half weeks to do this.) I went to the ‘local’ (takes on a new meaning when you’re on foot) drug store to purchase an expectorant–something to make my mucous less viscous–and had a choice between brand-name Robitussin and generic Tussin. Both contained 100 mg of Guaifenesin, but the generic brand packaged in some other chemicals (Dextromethorphan HBr and Pseudoephedrine HCl) that helps with coughs and congestion.

Here’s the kicker. The Tussin was half the price of the Robitussin and slightly more volume. I doubt very much harm can come from taking cough suppressant and nasal decongestant when I don’t have a cough or congestion, but I’m willing to experiment if it meant saving $3.

Graduate student math: $3 = tall coffee + a seat for 3 hours at Starbucks = round trip to Berkeley Bowl market via bus – $0.50 = a serving of Naia gelato – $0.25. So at the end of the day, I traded the experiment of introducing extraneous medicines into my body for the opportunity to study an afternoon at Starbucks, go buy groceries, or to have a scoop of ice cream.

By the way–I don’t know why parents don’t try to teach their children opportunity cost, i.e. the value of money. It’s hard for a kid to to understand “no, you can’t have a new toy,” but it’s easy for them to understand, “you could either buy this toy, or you could have dessert tonight.”

By the way #2, a friend of mine who is an up and coming opera diva was the first to suggest the combination of Robitussin and Sudafed to combat colds. As a professional singer she has to take good care of her throat. Sudafed is a decongestant and Robitussin is an expectorant, together they take care of the annoying symptoms of having a cold quite nicely.

By the way #3, apparently federal law requires an ID to purchase Guaifenesin. I heard somewhere that it’s an ingredient for crack cocaine.

By the way #4, as an added bonus for buying my Tussin, I got a free plastic cup that measures out tablespoons! This will help in my experiments with cooking. What a deal!


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