HEALTH

Biden introduces legislation to curb dextromethorphan abuse

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Sen. Joseph Biden, Jr., D-Del., on Wednesday introduced the Dextromethorphan Abuse Reduction Act of 2007, legislation aimed to curb the rise in medicine abuse, including the misuse of cough and cold medicines containing dextromethorphan.

“It’s not just pot or LSD or cocaine we have to worry about, teens across the country are abusing over-the-counter cough-and-cold medicines to get high, sometimes with deadly consequences,” Biden stated.

The Dextromethorphan Abuse Reduction Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., prohibits the unregulated sale of the bulk form of dextromethorphan; prohibits the sale of dextromethorphan-containing products to buyers under 18 years old—a move already voluntarily taken by several major retail stores, including many national food, drug and mass chains; and provides robust funding for prevention and educational programs to combat OTC and prescription drug abuse. “This legislation will attack this problem from all sides—education, enforcement and restricted access—and is the right move to protect our kids,” Biden said.

“The trend of teens looking to the medicine cabinet to get high with prescription and over-the-counter medicines is very troubling,” noted Linda Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. “The leading makers of over-the-counter cough medicines have been working to raise awareness about this problem and are pleased to see such strong leadership from the U.S. Senate on this issue.”

The bill is supported by the Food Marketing Institute, CHPA, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Partnership for a Drug-Free America and Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America.

Dextromethorphan produces hallucinogenic, PCP-like effects when taken in excessive quantities and its misuse causes a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, seizures, brain damage, elevated body temperatures and sometimes death. Teens often refer to this practice as “Robotripping”—a term derived from the cough medicine Robitussin, which contains dextromethorphan.

According to Biden’s office, recent studies reveal the widespread nature of the problem. Children ages 9 to 17 are the fastest growing group of recreational users of dextromethorphan. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America estimates that 2.4 million teens, or 1 in 10, got high on OTC cough medicines in 2005.

“The abuse of dextromethorphan–especially by teenagers–is a serious concern, and our industry is committed to doing its part to combat this problem. We will continue working closely with Senator Biden and his colleagues as the Dextromethorphan Abuse Reduction Act moves forward in Congress,” NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement on Thursday. “Many in our industry have already taken voluntary steps to restrict the sale of products containing dextromethorphan to underage teens. Through increased prevention, awareness and law enforcement, we can achieve the goal of stopping dextromethorphan abuse, while ensuring that safe and effective medicines valued by consumers remain readily available for legitimate use.”

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SinoFresh signs leter-of-intent with National Starch and Chemical

BY DSN STAFF

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. SinoFresh HealthCare earlier this week announced its non-binding letter-of-intent signed with National Starch and Chemical Co. to develop new versions of popular allergy-related over-the-counter medicines.

The company is targeting March 2008 for launch. 

The new products will utilize National Starch’s proprietary patented Proloc bio-adhesive technology to deliver the drug formulations. 

“In the United States, our current nasal spray has been aimed at helping the 37 million people who suffer from Chronic Sinusitis. By developing new and improved allergy-related formulations, we expect to help an additional 50 million people who suffer from allergies,” stated SinoFresh chief executive officer Charles Fust.

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Novartis introduces Canada’s Buckley’s cough medicine to U.S. market

BY Michael Johnsen

PARSIPPANY, N.J. Novartis is bringing Buckley’s, Canada’s No. 1 cough product—according to Information Resources, Inc. data for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 4—to the U.S. market. The brand will be introduced with two SKUs: a cough suppressant mixture and a chest congestion mixture that includes an expectorant.

Buckley’s point of differentiation is its bad taste with the slogan “It tastes awful. And it works.” The cough syrup is both sugar- and alcohol-free and includes camphor, Canadian fir balsam gum, pine needle oil and menthol.

To help generate interest in its U.S. debut, Novartis is sponsoring an online photo contest that invites people to post images of themselves tasting Buckley’s. The contest kicks off Nov. 5 and runs for one month. Entrants will have a chance to win an Alaskan Adventure vacation for two.

“There are two kinds of people in this world—those who what comfort when they are sick and those who want to get better,” stated Jose Rodriguez, Novartis Consumer Health vice president of marketing. “Buckley’s is for people who are focused on getting back to feeling like themsevels again quickly.”

According to Novartis, 65 percent of U.S. households purchased a cough remedy in the last year.

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