New Results from Annual Survey Show Teen Misuse of OTC Cough Medicine Remains Very Low

Washington, D.C. (December 14, 2017) — The 2017 results from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and University of Michigan’s annual drug abuse survey, Monitoring the Future, were released today showing that the percentage of teens using over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high remains at just 3 percent, the lowest level recorded for teen cough medicine abuse since 2015. When first reported in 2006, teen abuse of these OTC cough medicines was nearly 6 percent, but has declined significantly since then.

Over the past decade, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has worked to help reduce teen DXM abuse by employing three strategies: increasing parent engagement in abuse awareness and prevention; heightening teen perceptions of the risks and social disapproval of medicine abuse; and limiting teen access to DXM through age-18 sales restrictions in states. In 2008, CHPA member companies voluntarily placed a “PARENTS: Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse” icon on the packaging of cough medicines containing DXM. The icon serves as a mini public service announcement for parents, making them aware of cough medicine abuse at the point-of-sale and point-of-use and directing them to StopMedicineAbuse.org – a well-established website and abuse prevention campaign aimed at engaging parents and community leaders about teen abuse of OTC cough medicine.

“Public policy and education are both vitally important to combating teen OTC cough medicine abuse,” said CHPA president and CEO Scott Melville. “This is why CHPA has long supported state efforts to limit teen access to DXM and has worked to increase parental awareness through our Stop Medicine Abuse education campaign, while at the same time, ensuring continued access for millions of families who responsibly use medicines containing DXM.”

CHPA also collaborates with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to target teens who are most likely to abuse DXM based on their online search activity and to provide them with accurate information about the consequences of abusive behavior. Teens are directed to visit WhatIsDXM.com to learn more.

“The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids welcomes the data from this year’s Monitoring the Future Survey showing no year-to-year increases in high school students’ misuse of over-the-counter cough and cold remedies,” said Partnership president and CEO Fred Muench. “For nearly a decade now, the Partnership and CHPA have collaborated on a digital media prevention effort targeting this behavior – and we have seen steady and significant declines over this period in teens’ misuse of OTC cough medicine to get high. It’s compelling evidence that smart, strategic prevention initiatives can work, and can deliver real benefits to teens and their families.”

Additionally recognizing that retailers play a critical role in abuse prevention, this year CHPA launched a new Pharmacists & Retailers page on the StopMedicineAbuse.org site, where retailers can download or order free materials.

Please visit StopMedicineAbuse.org for more information about teen DXM abuse, the retailer education materials, and other helpful resources for parents and community leaders.

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The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 136-year-old national trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to empowering consumer self-care by preserving and expanding choice and availability of consumer healthcare products. chpa.org 

Contact: Lauren Bloomberg (lbloomberg@chpa.org
 
202.429.3534