CHPA - Consumer Healthcare Products Association

01/30/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/31/2019 14:12

U.S. House Introduces Bill to Curb Teen Cough Medicine Abuse

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 30, 2019) - The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) applauds today's introduction of H.R. 863, the DXM Abuse Prevention Act of 2019, sponsored by Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Bill Johnson (R-OH). The bipartisan legislation would set a national age-18 requirement for the purchase of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines containing the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM), an ingredient which is abused by some teenagers to get high.

'There is strong evidence to suggest that age-restriction policies in combination with public education have contributed to the decline in abuse rates,' said CHPA President and CEO Scott Melville. 'Age-restriction laws have already been implemented in 17 states and we applaud Representatives Matsuiand Johnsonfor their ongoing commitment to this issue on the federal level.'

DXM is a safe and effective ingredient found in more than 100 OTC medicines. While millions of Americans rely on these medicines to relieve cough and cold symptoms, some teens report taking 25 times or more of the recommended dose to get high. The 2018 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Monitoring the Future study reported that approximately one in 30 teens admits to abusing DXM to get high. When first reported in 2006, the number of teens abusing OTC cough medicines was nearly twice that amount but has declined significantly since then.

'Over the years, retailers, industry, and anti-substance abuse advocates have worked together to curb teen cough medicine abuse, while maintaining access to millions of responsible consumers,' continued Melville. 'This federal legislation is an important component of the prevention puzzle. We are hopeful that the bill moves forward in this Congress.'
'This bill is a commonsense step to ensuring that children are unable to easily access DXM - helping to keep them safe while ensuring that cough medicine is still available over the counter,' said Congresswoman Matsui. 'Congress should not wait any longer to take up this bipartisan bill that will prevent more children from abusing this drug.'
'While some efforts by the private sector and states have been successful in reducing the prevalence of teen abuse of Dextromethorphan (DXM), we know teens continue to abuse the drug. We should double down on those successful efforts to prevent teens from gaining easy access to DXM and other abusable drugs, while ensuring they remain safe and available for those who use them the right way,' said Congressman Johnson. 'With overdose deaths eclipsing car accident deaths last year, no facet of drug abuse should be ignored, especially by young people. I am hopeful that other Members of Congress will join Rep. Matsui and me in this important effort.'
In addition to supporting age-restriction legislation, CHPA works to reduce teen DXM abuse by increasing parental and community awareness through its Stop Medicine Abuse campaign, working closely with organizations such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). CHPA also collaborates with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to heighten teen perceptions of the risks of medicine abuse through the What is DXM campaign.
To learn more about DXM abuse and to obtain access to toolkits, brochures, and other educational materials for parents and community leaders, visit


The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 138-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 self-care by preserving and expanding choice and availability of consumer healthcare products.