Matsui, Johnson Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Reduce Teen Abuse of Over-the-Counter Cough Medicines

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Washington, January 30, 2019 | Hannah Blatt (202-225-7163) | comments

Bill would prohibit the sale of cough medicines containing the ingredient dextromethorphan to minors

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH), members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the H.R. 863 DXM Abuse Prevention Act in a bipartisan effort to prevent teen abuse of over-the-counter cough medicines containing the cough suppressant dextromethorphan, commonly referred to as DXM. The bill would establish a national age-18 requirement for the purchase of medicines containing DXM.

According to the 2014 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Monitoring the Future study, 1 in 30 teens admits to abusing DXM. Teens report taking 25 times or more of the recommended dose when abusing these medicines. Often referred to by the slang terms “dexing”, “Robotripping”, or “Triple C’s”, abuse of DXM leads to side effects including nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, blurred vision, and disorientation.

“This bill is a commonsense step to ensuring that children are unable to easily access DXM – helping to keep them safe while ensuring that cough medicine is still available over the counter,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “Congress should not wait any longer to take up this bipartisan bill that will prevent more children from abusing this drug.”

“While some efforts by the private sector and states have been successful in reducing the prevalence of teen abuse of Dextromethorphan (DXM), we know teens continue to abuse the drug.  We should double down on those successful efforts to prevent teens from gaining easy access to DXM and other abusable drugs, while ensuring they remain safe and available for those who use them the right way,” said Congressman Johnson. “With overdose deaths eclipsing car accident deaths last year, no facet of drug abuse should be ignored, especially by young people.  I am hopeful that other Members of Congress will join Rep. Matsui and me in this important effort.”

Supported by the makers of the medicines through their trade association the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, this bill would limit teen access to the medicines by ensuring teens seeking to abuse them would not be able to purchase them. An age restriction would also alert parents and other community stakeholders of DXM abuse.


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