Senators introduce bill restricting sale of DXM cough-relieving ingredient to adults
WASHINGTON — Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark., on Friday introduced the Preventing Abuse of Cough Treatments Act of 2013, which would require retailers to restrict the sale of dextromethorphan-containing products to adults. The bill also would restrict the sale of raw, bulk DXM to FDA-approved entities.
Many retailers have age restrictions on the sale of DXM products already in place; and similar legislation to this has been enforced in California since 2012.
“By addressing teens’ easy access to cough syrup, the main cause of the harmful trend of its abuse, my bill will help keep our children safe and lessen the strain cough syrup abuse has put on families, hospitals and law enforcement,” Casey stated. “My common-sense legislation will prevent kids from purchasing a drug that has dangerous consequences when abused to get high, while also ensuring it is available to those with a legitimate need for it.”
“Our association works to raise national awareness about this troubling behavior, and we are grateful to Sens. Casey and Murkowski for championing this issue on Capitol Hill,” stated Scott Melville, president and CEO for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. “An age restriction on the sale of dextromethorphan would give parents a tool to prevent abuse, as teens who report abusing DXM can easily purchase it themselves. We encourage all parents to monitor the medicines in their homes, to take notice if medicine goes missing and to talk to their teens about the risks of abusing all medicines, including OTC cough medicine.”
The association representing the independent pharmacy community expressed some reservations, however.
“Community pharmacies support and actively contribute to practical efforts to reduce the abuse of DXM-containing products and other medicines," commented John Coster, SVP government affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association. "We remain concerned, however, that this legislation will in fact ultimately place unfunded burdens on small pharmacies," he said. Placing age restrictions on DXM products may prompt many pharmacies to move DXM products behind the pharmacy counter, Coster suggested.
As many as 5% of teenagers report having intentionally taken large doses of DXM for effects that include hallucinations, confusion, blurred vision and loss of motor control. There have been reported cases of abuse of the raw form of DXM, which is extremely potent and sold in “bulk” to manufacturers. In 2005, five teenage boys from three different states died after ingesting DXM powder that they had bought in bulk from an online source. The PACT Act will make it harder for teens to purchase the drug for this dangerous use.
In addition to CHPA, the bipartisan legislation has been endorsed by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the National Consumers League, Partnership at DrugFree.Org, Safe Kids Worldwide and the National Association of School Nurses.
CHPA, the trade association representing the makers of OTC medicines and dietary supplements, has long supported an age restriction, as well as national educational efforts, to curb teen OTC cough medicine abuse through its StopMedicineAbuse.org education campaign. “We are working closely with CHPA on a digital and social media-based prevention effort targeting those teens who actively search online for information on how to abuse DXM,” noted Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “By embracing an integrated approach, one that underscores the importance of parent-to-teen communication about the risks of medicine abuse, stresses the need to safeguard medicines at home, limits children’s access at retail points and employs innovative teen intervention strategies online, we can help curb teen abuse of over-the-counter cough medicine.”
Study finds norovirus leading cause of acute gastroenteritis in infants, young children as rotavirus declines
ATLANTA — Norovirus has emerged as the leading cause of gastroenteritis — inflammation of the stomach and intestines — in children younger than 5 years, according to a new study.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that norovirus, the most common cause of stomach flu, was responsible for nearly 1 million doctor visits by children in the United States between 2009 and 2010, costing about $273 million each year. The researchers who conducted the study estimated there were 14,000 hospitalizations, 281,000 emergency room visits and 627,000 outpatient visits due to norovirus illness among small children. More than 21 million people in the United States get infected each year and develop acute gastroenteritis, and about 800 die; young children and elderly people are considered more likely to suffer from severe infections.
"Infants and young children are very susceptible to norovirus infections, which often result in a high risk of getting dehydrated from the sudden onset of intense vomiting and severe diarrhea," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist Daniel Payne said. "Our study estimates that 1-in-278 U.S. children will be hospitalized for norovirus illness by the time they turn 5 years of age. It is also estimated that about 1-in-14 children will visit an emergency room and 1-in-6 will receive outpatient care for norovirus infections."
CDC researchers tracked 1,295 infants and young children who sought medical care for acute gastroenteritis between October 2008 and September 2010, looking at more than 141,000 children in three U.S. counties. Lab tests for norovirus found it in 21% of the patients, compared with only 12% who had rotavirus. About half of the doctor visits due to norovirus infections were among infants ages 6 to 18 months, and infants and 1-year-old children were more likely to be hospitalized than older children. Still, overall rates of norovirus in emergency rooms and outpatient offices were 20 to 40 times higher than hospitalization rates.
"Our study confirmed that medical visits for rotavirus illness have decreased," Payne said. "Also, our study reinforces the success of the U.S. rotavirus vaccination program and also emphasizes the value of specific interventions to protect against norovirus illness."
According to the CDC, vaccines are currently being developed for norovirus.
New Chapter recalls 90-count Probiotic Elderberry dietary supplement
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — New Chapter on Wednesday voluntarily recalled a limited number of packages of its 90-count Probiotic Elderberry dietary supplement because it may contain an undeclared allergen – soy. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to soy run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product, the company stated.
The one lot of affected New Chapter Probiotic Elderberry was distributed nationwide. It reached consumers through retail stores, mail order and direct delivery.
The affected product is packaged in a 90-count amber glass jar with an outer cardboard carton marked with Lot No. 01230049332, with an expiration date of Jan. 31, 2015 and the UPC No. 7-27783-00123-8.
This voluntary recall is limited only to packages of New Chapter Probiotic Elderberry bearing the above UPC, expiration date and lot number, the company noted.