FDA re-evaluates DXM abuse potential; pharmacy retailers, groups respond

BETHESDA, Md. —The Food and Drug Administration will be re-evaluating the abuse potential of the cough-cold ingredient dextromethorphan among teenagers at the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

It appears the DEA may be pushing for a scheduling recommendation, a factor that could reclassify the common cough suppressant as a prescription-only medicine.

But both pharmacy retailers and the association representing makers of cough-cold medicines long have been addressing this concern—through voluntary age-restricted sales of products containing DXM, raising awareness around teenage drug abuse among parents and advocating for legislation that would restrict the sale of DXM products to minors under the age of 18.

The Consumer Health-care Products Association has been raising awareness among parents around the potential of OTC and prescription-drug abuse among teens for several years. “While these medicines [containing dextromethorphan] are safe and effective when used as directed, they can be dangerous when abused in extreme amounts, especially when combined with alcohol, illicit drugs or certain prescription drugs,” stated Linda Suydam, CHPA president. “The makers of OTC medicines have been aggressive in their efforts to prevent cough medicine abuse among teens.”

The National Association of School Nurses and the CHPA in April announced the launch of “Home to Home-room,” an educational program that teams parents with the medical expert in their teen’s school—the school nurse—to help prevent and address teen medicine abuse.

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