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New Legislation to Prevent Cough Medicine Abuse Re-Introduced in Senate


U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) this week re-introduced new bipartisan legislation to prevent the abuse of cough syrup to get high, a particularly worrisome trend among American teens.

Dextromethorphan (DXM) is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter cough and cold DXM-ABUSEmedicines and is safe when taken as recommended, but five percent of teenagers report having intentionally taken large doses of DXM for effects that include hallucinations, confusion, blurred vision and loss of motor control.

Senator Casey’s Prevent Abuse of Cough Treatments (PACT) Act will make it harder for teens to purchase the drug for this dangerous use, while still keeping cough medications accessible to those who use them for their intended purpose.

Our President and CEO Steve Pasierb had this to say about the new initiative:

“This legislation is vital for families as it will help ensure that medicines are less available to kids who are tempted to experiment. It will help protect them, as it limits a key form of ready access that teens have to cough medicine and to abusing the active ingredient DXM. We are working closely with the Consumer Health Products Association on a digital and social media-based prevention effort targeting those teens who actively search online for information on how to abuse DXM. By embracing an integrated approach, one that underscores the importance of parent-to-teen communication about the risks of medicine abuse, stresses the need to safeguard medicines at home, limits children’s access at retail points and employs innovative teen intervention strategies online, we can help curb teen abuse of over-the-counter cough medicine.”

Learn more about DXM here.

4 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Deb B
    Deb B / March 27, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Its really important to keep these drugs that contain dxm either behind the counter, or in full site of the staff.
    It’s so easy for teens to steal in supermarkets or really any large store.
    I have seen the effects of this drug, and it isn’t pretty. It took a while to realize this was going on. Most doctors don’t even know about kids taking this, and don’t test for it.

  2. jboside / March 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Our youth don’t buy it they steal it. We talk to our retailer and ask them to look at the numbers of how many were ordered and how many were sold. We then suggest they put the medication behind the counter. That’s were it should be.

  3. Avatar of Marcar
    Marcar / March 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    My son has been addicted to DXM for over 9 years. Previous comment is correct, they steal it. My son walks into the drugstore, grabs a box of Coricidin HBP cough and Cold, goes into the bathroom, swallows the entire box and throws the package in the garbage. DXM addiction has ruined his life and ours. Even though this is supposed to be behind the counter most stores don’t care and put it on the shelf anyway. He is in a drug court program and still uses because it does not show on drug tests. I say lower the mg of Dex on all these products to 15 mg from 30mg.

  4. Deb B / March 27, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Actially, dxm is something that is pretty useless and unnecessary. It’s unhealthy to suppress a cough. There are physiological reasons for coughing. When you stop that, you keep the body from doing what it needs to do.
    Therefore, I really believe it should be removed completely from OTC Meds – the way codeine was many years ago.

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