Robocough VS. Amazon (David and Goliath for the New Age)

RoboCough is a state-of-the-art cough syrup that’s causing quite a stir on multiple levels.

One look at their logo and marketing materials is enough to cause one to realize that this product is in a whole league of the cough suppression market.

The RoboCough logo is eye-catching and bold. Trendy and hip. Thought-provoking.

RoboCough is manufactured by DXM Pharmaceutical.

Normally a manufacturing company operates without much fanfare, while the products, marketing departments, and distributors attract most of the attention.

Alas, the DXM Pharmaceutical logo is just as attractive and compelling as the logo for RoboCough itself.

In the DXM Pharmaceutical logo, there is a vibrant red splash up through the X in DXM, which becomes a blue splash up through the M. I can’t claim to know exactly what this signifies, but my mind runs wild with it (a full analysis would be beyond the scope of this post, but I’ll return to this another time).

Contrast that with the most well-known cough suppression product on the North American market, Robitussin.

Robitussin’s image is sterile and outdated. Do you know off the top of your head what company is responsible for Robitussin?

It is Pfizer, Inc. They are a massive pharmaceutical company established in 1849.

Pfizer’s products are what consumers in North America are used to seeing on store shelves in our pharmacies.

This image is intended to compare the brands aesthetically; not an accurate size comparison.

RoboCough looks more like those cruddy energy boost products you see at gas stations, than a cough medicine.

But appearances can often be deceiving, as we all know.

In actuality, RoboCough is in my summation the most effective, efficient, valuable cough medicine ever to hit the market to date.

However, RoboCough and DXM Pharmaceutical are facing massive barriers to getting this product to a comfortable and stable position in the marketplace.

I can only speculate on the reasons for these barriers, but my speculations come from a lifetime of experience and thorough thought on these matters and equivalent ones.

There is an immense societal stigma associated with the active ingredient of cough medicine, dextromethorphan.

The stigma is multi-leveled and complex.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick to one particular aspect of the stigma for now:

Dextromethorphan is, in addition to being a cough suppressant, also a powerful dissociative psychoactive chemical that causes profound and life-changing mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual experiences in its user.

Western society has a traditional tendency to associate non-prescribed drug use with deviant, unacceptable behavior.

Many people still have, “Drugs are bad, mmmk?” so ingrained into their psyche that their minds automatically resort to generalized judgments at even just the slight mention of a drug that they associate with their preconceived beliefs.

In that climate, it is understandable that a common reaction to hearing that people consume cough medicine to “get high” is to ridicule, fret, and and close down to further discourse.

And that’s exactly what has happened. I have written extensively about this before. Here is some selected reading from the past few years for those who may be interested:

The meaning of life: a reason for the pain

Rantings of an egotistical psychonaut

Death and rebirth (understanding the unthinkable)

To summarize the above selected readings, I’ll just say that there are utterly compelling reasons for people to use dextromethorphan despite the stigma and perceived risks.

Alas, the point here is not to defend or glorify DXM.

Our point here, is to highlight a specific barrier that is being presented to RoboCough in its journey to the open market.

A barrier that most probably comes from the drug stigma at least partially, and a barrier that is being enforced by one of the largest companies that the world has ever known:


Amazon and also Shopify, have positioned themselves as guard dogs that keep RoboCough from swiftly reaching the open market.

Around February 15, 2018, Amazon abruptly froze RoboCough’s sales through their site.

Their official reason? Because RoboCough’s sales were too high out the gate, for them to comprehend the phenomenon. Amazon claimed that there were not enough reviews on the site to justify the high volume of sales.

Let me tell you why I think RoboCough’s sales were so stellar.

It’s not that much of a mystery at all.

They are genius at marketing their products and establishing engaging relationships with their consumers. They have a product that works, and they are confident enough in their effectiveness that they provide free samples, paid shipping and all.

In the crusty capitalist society of America, RoboCough is a refreshing ray of light, and a good example of how businesses of the future should endeavor to operate.

Yet they were penalized by Amazon for being better than the rest.

And the penalties do not stop there.

After RoboCough’s customer reviews flowed in to the point of meeting Amazon’s requirements, they ceased the freeze.

Then, in early March, without any warning or explanation, Amazon froze RoboCough’s sales again.

Simultaneously, Shopify (the company RoboCough was utilizing to process their transactions) cut off their services without warning as well.

Currently, RoboCough is exploring options with other companies, and is also pursuing legal action towards Amazon and Shopify for breaking their contract.

Talk about David and Goliath.

But in the story of humble Shepard boy David and colossal giant Goliath, David was the victor.

Like RoboCough, David wasn’t as small as he appeared from the outside.

David was a man of faith and a tool of justice.

Meanwhile, Goliath’s pride and rigidness was his undoing.

While I do not think that Amazon should be or will be obliterated, I do have every confidence that RoboCough is going to come out on top of this particular legal battle.


Because they’re the good guys. Or at very least, they are the ones standing on a higher, more solid ethical and legal ground. They are operating from a place of providing a value and service to the world, while Amazon and Shopify are rendered impotent in their ability to make sure that RoboCough’s value makes it to the people who need it.

In this instance, even a company as cutting edge of Amazon is just an old, slow, outdated relic when compared with what they are up against here.

Just like with Goliath, they won’t know what hit ‘em.

Originally published at Andrew L. Hicks.