The Big 3

There are three issues involving over-the-counter medicines today that have put the industry on the defensive, and all involve the question of appropriate access. Drug Store News examined each.

The issue: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required that FSA participants obtain a prescription for those OTCs incorporated into their health savings agenda.

CHPA’s solution: Reverse the rule — it’s likely to cost much more than it will save (see above).

The issue: The maligned decongestant is a key ingredient in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine. Several states are considering making PSE available by prescription only to help in their war on drugs.

CHPA’s solution: The National Precursor Log Exchange, a multistate tool, wholly funded by the industry, that helps identify methamphetamine-producing criminals while maintaining access for consumers.

According to state government review in Kentucky, at least 97.8% of all PSE sales in the state are made for legitimate use. Rx-only PSE only drives the illegal meth business further underground, where it can’t be tracked as readily by law enforcement.

The issue: Consuming obscene amounts of DXM has become infamous as a cheap and easy “high,” and is highly popular among teenagers predisposed to abusing drugs.

CHPA’s solution: Education and sales restrictions. The CHPA has coordinated with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America ( on a comprehensive awareness initiative to educate parents, teachers and law enforcement on how to recognize and prevent potential teen abuse of cough medicines. The site is promoted on most cold medicine packages. The CHPA also advocates for legislation that would ban DXM sales to minors, as well as legislation to restrict access to unfinished, bulk dextromethorphan.

Statistically, 1.8% of teens between the ages of 12 years and 17 years abuse DXM. And while that number may be too high, teens who report “learning a lot” at home about drugs are 50% less likely to abuse drugs.

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