Congressional Effort to Address Dextromethorphan Abuse Hailed by CHPA

Industry calls for swift action on legislation

Washington, D.C. (May 4, 2006)—The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) applauds the introduction of the Dextromethorphan Distribution Act of 2006 (H.R. 5280), bipartisan legislation sponsored by Rep. Fred S. Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) to prevent the unapproved sale and distribution of unfinished (powdered or bulk) dextromethorphan.

Recently, substance abuse experts have noted sporadic reports of teens intentionally obtaining unfinished dextromethorphan to get high by consuming large amounts of the powder or mixing it with other drugs or alcohol, “Unfinished dextromethorphan in powdered form can be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands,” said Linda A. Suydam, D.P.A, CHPA president. The legislation introduced yesterday would restrict unfinished dextromethorphan to entities registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and help prevent its illegal abuse. “We applaud Congressman Upton and Congressman Larsen for their leadership on this issue,” continued Suydam, “and offer our total support for this much-needed initiative.”

In addition to supporting this aggressive legislation against unfinished dextromethorphan, the nonprescription medicine industry has been proactive in preventing the intentional abuse of its over-the-counter (OTC) dextromethorphan-containing products. Used by millions of Americans each year, Dextromethorphan is a safe and effective, FDA-approved ingredient found in many OTC cough products. CHPA, working in cooperation with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, has developed a program to raise awareness about and prevent OTC cough medicine abuse.

Originally launched in 2003, CHPA and the Partnership created an initiative to ensure that adults with influence and oversight over young people are aware that teens may be considering dextromethorphan medicine abuse. A key component of the initiative is to provide information and resources to adult audiences.

Specifically, CHPA and the Partnership are:

  • Launching a national, research based media campaign–with TV, radio, and print public service announcements–to raise awareness about dextromethorphan abuse;
  • Distributing an educational brochure for parents, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Teen Cough Medicine Abuse, in both English and Spanish;
  • Operating a parent-oriented web site (www.drugfree.org) with information on dextromethorphan abuse: how to recognize it, how to prevent it, and how to stop it;
  • Operating a teen website with peer to peer testimonials (www.dxmstories.com) to educate this population on the dangers of dextromethorphan abuse; and
  • Reaching out with information to a variety of organizations, including parent groups, education associations, the poison control center network, health professional associations, and law enforcement.

“While CHPA and the Partnership, among others, work on OTC dextromethorphan abuse, we are most gratified that Representatives Upton and Larsen are addressing the problem of unfinished dextromethorphan abuse in this legislation,” said Suydam.

Stephen J. Pasierb, president and chief executive officer, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, echoed this sentiment and endorsed the legislation, as well, referring to the proposed initiative as “an important part of a comprehensive, overall effort to reduce dextromethorphan abuse in the United States.”

Elizabeth Assey and Virginia Cox, 202.429.9260


CHPA is the 125-year-old trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and nutritional supplement products.