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New Federal Legislation Can Help Combat Teen Cough Medicine Abuse

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) today applauds U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D–PA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for introducing legislation to help combat teen cough medicine abuse. The Preventing Abuse of Cough Treatments (PACT) Act of 2012 would prohibit the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to teens under the age of 18.

DXM is a safe and effective cough suppressant found in more than 100 cough and cold medicines. While millions of Americans rely on these medicines to relieve cough and cold symptoms, the 2011 National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA's) Monitoring the Future survey found that approximately 5 percent of teens in grades 8-12 report abusing DXM-containing medicines by ingesting large amounts to get  "high" – sometimes as much as 25 or more times the recommended dose.

"This legislation powerfully complements our ongoing educational initiatives to raise awareness about this troubling behavior," CHPA President and CEO Scott M. Melville said. "It will give parents an additional tool to prevent abuse, while ensuring access for the millions of adults and families who responsibly use products containing DXM to relieve cough symptoms. We are extremely pleased to see such strong leadership from Sens. Casey and Murkowski and encourage Congress to pass this legislation."

CHPA, the trade association representing the makers of OTC medicines and dietary supplements, has long supported national educational efforts to curb teen OTC cough medicine abuse through its education campaign, which includes collaborations with The Partnership at, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), National Association of School Nurses (NASN), D.A.R.E. America, WebMD, and others.

"This legislation is particularly important for parents as it will help ensure the medication is less available to kids tempted to experiment. It limits a key form of ready access teens have to cough medicine and to abusing the active ingredient DXM," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at

"In a parallel effort, we are working closely with CHPA on a digital and social media-based prevention initiative targeting those teens who are actively involved in searching online or chatting for information on how to abuse DXM. By taking a holistic, integrated approach, one that includes the importance of parent-to-teen communication about medicine abuse, stresses safeguarding medicines at home, limits children's access at retail and employs innovative teen intervention strategies online, we can help curb teen abuse of over-the-counter cough medicine."

The PACT Act also places limits on the purchase of bulk (unfinished) DXM, ensuring that only manufacturers registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or relevant state agencies have access to DXM in its  raw form. Currently, there are no national sales or purchase restrictions for dextromethorphan in this form. 

CHPA is the 131-year-old trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.

About CHPA's Campaign

  • provides toolkits, brochures, and other materials at no cost to engage parents and community leaders in the fight against teen cough medicine abuse.
  •'s Five Moms campaign brings together five moms – a school nurse, an accountant, a police officer, an educator, and an author – from different backgrounds and from all over the country with a common concern: teenagers abusing cough medicine to get high. Five Moms was created in 2007 to raise awareness among parents about the growing problem of teens abusing cough medicine to get high. The campaign seeks not only to educate and raise awareness among parents but also to spur them to action – to educate themselves, to talk with their children, to safeguard their medicines, and to spread the word to other parents.
  • CHPA member companies placed a "PARENTS: Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse –" icon on the packaging of DXM-containing cough medicines.  The icon serves as a mini public service announcement for parents, making them aware of the issue of cough medicine abuse at the point-of-sale and point-of-use and directs them to where parents can access resources they need to more comfortably talk to their teen about the issue.
  • CHPA collaborates with the Partnership at to provide teens with accurate information about cough medicine abuse through the Partnership's teen-oriented website,

Parents: Learn about teen medicine abuse.

SOURCE Consumer Healthcare Products Association
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