As of January 1, 2012, minors will no longer be able to buy over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medication containing dextromethorphan (DXM), a common cough suppressant, reports Jondi Gumtz of the Mercury News.
From WebMD: DXM is in more than 125 drugs for cough, cold, and flu, including Dimetapp DM, Nyquil, Robitussin, Coricidin, Delsym, Zicam, Theraflu, and Vick’s Formula 44. It’s also used in store brands of cough and cold medicines, such as Wal-Tussin or Wal-Flu and can come in cough syrups, capsules, lozenges, tablets, and gelcaps.
The soon to be enacted bill, SB 514, authored by state senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, requires stores to use cash registers that ask the employee to check for identification when anyone purchases OTC medicines containing DXM; California is the first state in the nation to ban the sale of these medicines to minors.
DXM abuse has grown in the last decade, primarily among youth; called robo-tripping, skittling, dex, or candy, when taken in large doses it produces intoxication, hallucinations, seizures and "out of body" sensations. According to the 2010 "Monitoring the Future" survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3.2% of 8th graders, 5.1% of 10th graders and 6.6% of 12th graders have used DXM in the last year.
The California Poison Control Call System statistics from the bill's Senate floor analysis state that 228 calls were made reporting DXM abuse by minors in 2010. Of these cases, 71% were treated in an emergency room, 4% were admitted to the hospital intensive care unit, and 4% were admitted to the hospital in a non-critical care unit.
Legislation was first introduced in 2004, but stalled due to a lack of understanding of the extent of the problem. This year, Simitian reintroduced the bill:
"Today the extent and seriousness of the problem is better understood," he said. "By putting age limitations on these drugs, we're communicating to kids and their parents that, when used inappropriately, these are dangerous drugs with serious consequences."
Written for California's Children by Elizabeth J Carlyle.