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What is Aspergum®?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Aspergum® was an analgesic product manufactured by Insight Pharmaceuticals until 2006, when it was discontinued. The product was a combination of gum and aspirin that provided aspirin in a readily absorbable chewable form for pain management, and was commonly marketed for the treatment of sore throats and headaches. Alternative products are available on the market for people seeking analgesics, including aspirin-free products designed for people who should not take aspirin for medical reasons.

The earliest combination of aspirin and gum dates to the 1920s. Aspirin was a popular and readily available over the counter medication and providing it in gum format provided companies with a new way of meeting customer needs. Chewing gum combined with medication is known as functional gum and a number of companies have developed other functional gum products, including chewable analgesics. Chewing can help people absorb the medication more quickly, in addition to providing a distraction from pain and soreness.

Insight Pharmaceuticals manufactured two flavors of Aspergum®, cherry and orange. As with other medications containing aspirin, the product was not recommended for use in certain people, including patients with liver disease, young children, people with certain allergies, and individuals with a history of stomach ulcers and other digestive tract problems. Aspirin is also not recommended for use in children with fevers, as they can develop a rare complication known as Reye's Syndrome.

Packets of Aspergum® provided people with measured doses of aspirin in each gum tablet, along with clear directions for usage of the medication. It can be dangerous to take too much aspirin at once or to take repeated high doses of aspirin over the course of several days as the liver may have difficulty clearing the medication. People who overdose on aspirin can develop severe complications. Since many analgesic products contain aspirin, it is important for patients to be read medication labels to confirm that they are not inadvertently taking excessive aspirin.

Alternatives to Aspergum® can include lozenges to ease sore throats along with oral aspirin for headaches and minor aches and pains. If a patient has a very high fever or an altered level of consciousness, over-the-counter remedies should be discontinued and a doctor should be consulted. It is also advisable to ask a doctor if symptoms persist over the course of several days without improving, as the patient may have a more serious medical problem and could benefit from diagnostic testing and prescription medications.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon1005292 — On Jul 29, 2021

Aspergum worked great for sore throat. I was extremely sorry when it was taken off the market. Now when I feel a sore throat coming on I take a aspirin between my cheeks and gums & just let it run down my throat. A lot of my family can't stand the taste so l'm glad to hear it is coming back. It's still the best thing for a sore throat I've ever taken.Warm Whisky, honey and lemon works pretty well too.

By anon969479 — On Sep 10, 2014

I used to get the worst sore throats. Aspergum was the one thing that actually helped. So now it has gone the way of my favorite bra style, lotion and boots.

By anon352216 — On Oct 20, 2013

Why was it taken off the market?

By BigManCar — On Oct 18, 2011

I used to use it all the time for sore throats. I never tried it for a headache. I tend to get tension headaches, and for me ibuprofen works the best for me. The dose in each piece of gum can't be very high, and I wouldn't want to be chewing a big wad of gum when I already had a headache. Still, I was sad to see it taken off the market. It was really useful for sore throats.

By Veruca10 — On Oct 17, 2011

@cardsfan27 - Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory that mostly works on muscles and other inflamed tissue. I don't think that it interacts directly with nerve cells. Either way, it needs to be absorbed into the bloodstream to work. As for Tylenol, I'm not sure.

I have never heard of other pain relievers in the form of gum, just aspirin. So it may well work differently than the others.

By parkthekarma — On Oct 16, 2011

I love that it's called functional gum. It just sounds like a fun name. Maybe that is why it isn't on the market anymore, kids may have gotten a hold of it and chewed way too much not knowing what it is.

I think it is pretty hard to overdose on aspirin, but too much of anything can still be dangerous, and children aren't supposed to take aspirin anyway.

That is kind of the double-edged sword of making any medicine taste good. It makes it easier to get kids (and adults) to take it, but then you run the risk of the child finding it and wanting to take more because they like the taste and don't understand that it's dangerous.

By titans62 — On Oct 16, 2011

@cardsfan27 - I'm not really sure about that either. As far as I have always heard, no one is absolutely sure how Tylenol works. I think it has something to do with binding to some sort of pain cell. If that's the case with aspirin, it seems like Aspergum coming in contact with the painful area would make sense. That's just my guess, though.

By cardsfan27 — On Oct 15, 2011

@TreeMan - I used it a couple times, and can't say that I was a fan. I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of gum or cherry flavored things, and that was the flavor I had. I don't remember there being much of a bitter taste, but I could see what you mean.

The time I used it was when I was starting to get a headache and the person I was with had some of the Aspergum. I don't remember whether it worked or not.

I could see how putting it in gum form could speed up absorption. What I'm wondering is how it would help with a sore throat. Does aspirin work differently than ibuprofen or acetaminophen? I thought those two had to be absorbed into the blood stream where they dulled nerve cells.

By TreeMan — On Oct 14, 2011

@stil156 - I was curious, too, about why it was no longer sold. I looked it up, but couldn't find a lot about why Insight stopped making it. I didn't find anything about Aspergum being controversial or harmful in any way, so I would agree with you that it was probably just an economic decision.

The thing I did find that was interesting was that Insight Pharmaceuticals is the same company that makes Anacin which is a combination of aspirin with caffeine. Apparently that company just likes to put aspirin in combinations with other things.

I had never heard of Aspergum until now, but how were the flavors? Where they good? Aspirin always has a pretty distinctive taste that seems like it would give any flavor a type of bitter off taste.

By stl156 — On Oct 13, 2011

What was the reason behind Aspergum being taken off the market? Was it a medical concern or was it simply an economic based decision by the company that made it? From the article, I assume there are still other companies that market the asprin in gum form, just under a different name, right?

I have never heard of any medications being in the form of gum except for nicotine gum to help people stop smoking. What about the gum form makes the medicine more quickly absorbed into the body? Does it have something to do with saliva?

By andee — On Oct 13, 2011

I remember using Aspergum and didn't even realize it was taken off the market. I liked the cherry flavor and would usually use it when I was getting a sore throat.

The active ingredient was aspirin, but I don't remember how much you got in one piece. I don't know if it was equivalent to taking one aspirin or not. They weren't very big pieces, but I remember they did help with my sore throat.

Since I like chewing gum I thought this was a good idea at the time. If I have a sore throat now, I will usually use some lozenges or take some Tylenol to help with the pain.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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