Gotta Go, Gotta Go: Here Comes the First and Only Over-the-Counter Patch for Women with Overactive Bladder

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Get ready. In July 2013 the first over-the-counter patch will be available for the treatment of overactive bladder in women. Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common condition that causes a frequent, sudden, unstoppable need to urinate. Women call this the “gotta go, gotta go” problem. These bladder issues sadly force people to limit their participation in physical and social activities (sitting through movies or plays, long car drives, etc.). Well, you will now have access to a patch you can buy and try that is over the counter. This obviously makes treatment more accessible and I hope cheaper.

Oxybutynin (Ditropan, Ditropan XL) is available now as a pill by prescription only. Oxytrol is the same medication, currently available as a prescription patch, which will soon be sold over the counter. That’s all good. With Oxytrol, since the drug is delivered into your bloodstream through your skin, it bypasses the liver and the stomach, limiting potential downsides. Dry mouth is the main complaint with Oxytrol and occurs less often than is seen with the Ditropan pill.

When Oxytrol for Women arrives in July 2013 it will be a thin, flexible, and clear patch applied to the abdomen, hip or buttock twice weekly that can be worn during normal activities, including bathing, swimming, showering, or exercising.

What about men? Oxytrol will remain available for men with OAB by prescription only. Hmmmm, what? The safety and effectiveness for over the counter use was only tested in 5000 women, and I imagine testing in men is underway.

Stay tuned.

Dr O.

Generic oxybutynin is currently the lowest cost option for the treatment of OAB, and will likely continue to be more affordable even after Oxytrol is released for sale over the counter. However, it does require a prescription where Oxytrol for women will not. Oxybutynin is available through many pharmacy discount programs for under $5 per month, and is considered a Tier 1 generic by most insurance plans, meaning you’ll pay only your lowest copay. In contrast, a one-month supply of Oxytrol (8 patches) can cost $250 – $300 out of pocket, and if covered, Oxytrol is considered a high copay Tier 2 or 3 drug by many insurance companies. The cost should decrease when Oxytrol makes the switch to over-the-counter—but it is still likely to be quite a bit higher than oxybutynin.

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