Statement from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Regarding California Study of Cough Medicine Abuse

Washington, D.C. (December 4, 2006)—Following is a statement by Linda A. Suydam, D.P.A., president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), regarding the study published today in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine about the increase in the abuse of dextromethorphan among California teens:

"The report published today in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine further underscores the need for education and awareness about the troubling trend of teenagers taking vast amounts of otherwise safe medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, to get high. We believe that education is the most effective way to keep kids from abusing all types of substances, including over-the-counter medicines, and in fact, studies have shown that teens who talk about drugs with their parents are half as likely to use drugs.

"Consumers have relied on cough medicines that contain dextromethorphan for over 50 years, and thus the makers of over-the-counter cough medicines take our responsibility toward the public health seriously. We believe strongly in the power of education and are committed to raising awareness about medicine abuse and giving parents and other key influencers in teen lives the tools they need to stop this preventable problem.

"With this in mind, with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, we have created a host of English- and Spanish-language educational resources for parents and community leaders, including public service announcements, brochures, and web sites for parents and teens. Our educational efforts are designed to educate parents about this preventable abuse problem and empower them to take action. By talking to their kids about the dangers of medicine abuse, safeguarding the medicines in their home, and recognizing the signs of abuse, parents can do a lot to help keep their kids safe.

"The study also highlights the very serious role that the Internet plays in providing teens with information about how to abuse medicine. The Internet is full of predators who actively encourage dextromethorphan abuse and even provide detailed instructions. These strangers are putting our children at risk of potentially deadly harm, and we must expose them for the dangerous people they are. CHPA will be reaching out to online communities, urging them to police their own content and remove this type of dangerous information. At the same time, parents must be vigilant about knowing what their teens may be accessing on the Internet, because teens are using the Internet to purchase the raw, unfinished ingredient used by manufacturers to make cough medicine and to get detailed instructions on how to abuse it.

"CHPA strongly agrees with the report’s conclusion of increasing awareness and education among healthcare providers, manufacturers, and retailers. The manufacturers of OTC medicines have been working diligently to raise awareness to this problem and provide resources for parents, health care providers, retailers, teens, and community leaders. CHPA supports many retailers’ efforts to prevent the sale of dextromethorphan-containing medicines to those under the age of 18."

Note: All of CHPA’s initiatives to stop cough medicine abuse by teens are summarized online.

Contacts: 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.