NACDS supports congressional crackdown on dextromethorphan

April 4, 2009

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is endorsing a congressional effort to crack down on the bulk sale of a cough syrup ingredient sometimes abused as a recreational drug.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is endorsing a congressional effort to crack down on the bulk sale of a cough syrup ingredient sometimes abused as a recreational drug.

HR 1259, the Dextromethorphan (DMX) Distribution Act, passed the House on March 31 with a vote of 407 to 8. The bill amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by making it a violation for any unfinished dextromethorphan to be possessed, received, or distributed in violation of this Act.

The use of dextromethorphan as a recreational drug has increased sharply in recent years, according to some studies, with many teenagers obtaining it in its unfinished form - sometimes over the Internet. It is then taken as a powder or mixed with alcohol. Dextromethorphan is available without prescription. Taken in large doses, it can cause brain damage, seizures, and death.

The bill specifically prohibits a person from possessing or receiving unfinished DMX unless the person is “registered with the Secretary of Health and Human Services as a producer of a drug or device or otherwise registered, licensed, or approved pursuant to federal or state law to engage in the practice of pharmacy, pharmaceutical production, or manufacture or distribution of drug ingredients.”

The bill also prohibits nonqualified individuals from distributing unfinished DMX to any person other than a registered or otherwise authorized person.

NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson said the bill would help reduce abuse of dextromethorphan.“When used in legitimate healthcare products and taken correctly, dextromethorphan is a highly effective cough suppressant with very few side effects and a decades-long track record of safety,” he said. “However, there is no need for the typical consumer to have access to unfinished bulk dextromethorphan.” He added, “This bill will go a long way to help ensure that the only entities that can access unfinished bulk dextromethorphan are those with a legitimate need.”