FDA cracking down on teen cough medicine abuse


by Nadia Ramdass / KENS 5


Posted on September 3, 2010 at 11:57 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 13 at 3:20 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- It is supposed to make you feel better when you are sick!  However, a growing number of young people are chugging down cough medicine for a quick high. 

Now the federal government wants to crack down on this trend. 

Experts say teens abuse of the over-the-counter medicines because they are inexpensive and relatively easy to obtain.  Which is why federal authorities are pushing for tighter regulations.

Parents should beware!  A recently published report by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found the inappropriate use of Dextromethorphan or "DXM".  It is found in over 100 over-the-counter-medicines and is linked to nearly 8,000 emergency room visits in 2008. That's up more than 70% from 2004. 

At least 3.1 million young adults between the ages of 12 through 25 have abused it at least once in their life. 

"We have had some incidents where clusters of kids who got into some cold remedies and several of them became ill," says Dr. Miguel Fernandez, Director of the Poision Center at the University of Texas San Antonio Health Science Center. 

Dr.  Fernandez has as seen his share of teens overdosing on these cold medicines.  He says they are abusing these over-the-counter-medicines to get a quick "high". 

The FDA found that many teens sometimes drink more than 25 times the recommended dose of cold medicines, which is a practice dubbed as "robotripping".   "Robotripping" is nicknamed after the cold medicine Robitussun.  "Robotripping" can lead to many serious side effects.

"They can become agitated, they can become delirious.... sometimes they can have a seizure which can lead to other serious effects," says Dr. Fernandez.

Now the FDA is looking into requiring prescriptions to purchase any over-the-counter medicines containing DXM, as well as moving them behind the counter, and even banning purchases by those under the age of 18.

The FDA will meet on September 14 to decide on whether to restrict access to medicines containing DXM.