OTC Industry Program to Reduce Teen Abuse of Cough Medicine Containing Dextromethorphan Explored in Peer-Reviewed Journal

 Case study outlines key learnings, successful outcomes since 2010

Washington, D.C. (June 27, 2016) — Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy recently published a case study authored by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) about the association’s efforts to curb teen abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing dextromethorphan. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that encompasses research concerning substance abuse, with a focus on policy issues.

The paper, “Dextromethorphan: a case study on addressing abuse of a safe and effective drug,” provides an overview of the targeted abuse mitigation plan CHPA launched in 2010 to address levers influencing teen decisions. As noted in the case study, the annual prevalence of OTC cough medicine abuse has sharply decreased since 2010 and remains at an all-time low of approximately 3 percent of U.S. teens. The case study examines the development, implementation, and outcomes of CHPA’s efforts to raise parental awareness of the behavior, increase teen perception of risk and social disapproval, and to limit teen access to the products.

“While we cannot point to one specific effort and say, ‘This is the action that drove down abuse,’ CHPA and our member companies have been disciplined in executing a program that is grounded in research and utilizes tools to ensure our strategies and specific messages were effective,” CHPA Senior Vice President, Policy, and General Counsel & Secretary David Spangler said.

“We hope that this case study demonstrates how targeted and less disruptive interventions can be effective when trying to reach teens on niche issues such as dextromethorphan abuse and that the learnings we gained will be beneficial for other groups who are working to positively influence teen behavior.”

The publication is available on BioMed Central. Additional information on CHPA’s efforts to prevent teen cough medicine abuse can be found on CHPA’s website.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 135-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.


Contact: Jenni Roberson 202.429.9260