Federal Legislation to Combat Teen Cough Medicine Abuse Gains House Support

CHPA commends U.S. Reps. Johnson (R-Ohio) and Braley (R-Iowa) for introducing bill prohibiting the sale of OTC cough medicines containing dextromethorphan to minors

WASHINGTON--()--The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) applauds U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson (R–Ohio) and Bruce Braley (D–Iowa) for introducing bipartisan legislation aimed at preventing teen abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines by prohibiting the sale of OTC cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to anyone under the age of 18. The Preventing Abuse of Cough Treatments (PACT) Act (HR 3969) is the House of Representatives’ companion bill to the Senate bill (S.644), which was introduced in March by U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D–Pa.) and Lisa Murkowski (R–Alaska).

DXM is a safe and effective cough suppressant found in more than 100 cough and cold medicines. While millions of Americans rely on these medicines to relieve cough and cold symptoms, the 2013 National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA’s) Monitoring the Future survey released in December found that just under 4 percent of teens – roughly 1 in 25 – in grades 8 through 12 report abusing DXM-containing medicines by ingesting excessive amounts to get “high” – often 25 times or more the recommended dose.

“On behalf of the makers of OTC cough medicines, I want to thank Reps. Johnson and Braley for taking a stand against teen medicine abuse and bringing our country one step closer toward a national law that will help deter teens who are purchasing these medicines with the intent to abuse them,” CHPA President and CEO Scott Melville said. “This bill is one part of a larger, multipronged approach to prevent cough medicine abuse along with educating parents and teens about the risks and social stigma associated with this behavior.”

CHPA, the trade association representing the makers of OTC medicines and dietary supplements, has long supported an age-18 restriction as well as national educational efforts to curb teen OTC cough medicine abuse through its StopMedicineAbuse.org education campaign, which includes collaborations with The Partnership at Drugfree.org, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and others.

“We applaud Congressmen Johnson and Braley for introducing this important legislation. Passage of a national law to limit teen access to DXM products would be a powerful tool in the fight to prevent teen cough medicine abuse. Medicine abuse of any kind – whether prescription or over-the-counter – is a major concern for CADCA and our members across the country and we hope this bill will soon be passed into law so that fewer young people are harmed by cough medicine abuse,” said Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA Chairman and CEO.

The PACT Act also places limits on the purchase of bulk (unfinished) DXM, ensuring that only manufacturers registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or relevant state agencies have access to DXM in its raw form. Currently, there are no national sales or purchase restrictions for dextromethorphan in this form.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 133-year-old 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 promoting the increasingly vital role of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements in America’s healthcare system through science, education, and advocacy.


About CHPA’s StopMedicineAbuse.org Campaign

  • StopMedicineAbuse.org provides toolkits, brochures, and other materials at no cost to engage parents and community leaders in the fight against teen cough medicine abuse.
  • StopMedicineAbuse.org’s Five Moms initiative brings together five moms (a school nurse, an accountant, a police officer, an educator, and an author) from across the country to raise awareness of OTC cough medicine abuse among parents and to spur them to action – to educate themselves, to talk with their children, to safeguard their medicines, and to spread the word to other parents.
  • Through the Stop Medicine Abuse legislative action center, parents and other advocates who support a federal age-18 sales restriction of DXM can send a letter of support for the Prevent Abuse of Cough Treatments (PACT) Act.
  • CHPA member companies placed a “PARENTS: Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse – www.StopMedicineAbuse.orgicon on the packaging of DXM-containing cough medicines. 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 resources.
  • CHPA collaborates with The Partnership at Drugfree.org to target teens likely to abuse based on their online search activity and provide them accurate information about the consequences of this behavior. For more information, visit DXMstories.org.


Consumer Healthcare Products Association
Jenni Terry, 202-429-9260


Consumer Healthcare Products Association
Jenni Terry, 202-429-9260