HEALTH ALERT: Cough Medicine Might Require Prescription
HEALTH ALERT - Federal health regulators are weighing restrictions on Robitussin, NyQuil and other cough suppressants to curb cases of abuse that send thousands of people to the hospital each year.
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday posted its review of dextromethorphan, an ingredient found in more than 100 over-the-counter medications that is sometimes abused for its euphoric effects. The practice, dubbed "robotripping," involves taking more than 25 times the recommended dose of a cold medicine and is mainly associated with teenagers.
At high doses the drug causes increased blood pressure, heart rate and fever. Abusers can also suffer side effects from other ingredients mixed in cough medicines, such as acetaminophen, which can cause liver damage.
"Because of the drug's perceived safety, ease of availability, and desired psychoactive effects, it is sought after by those seeking to alter their mental state," states the FDA review.
According to the FDA, inappropriate use of the ingredient was linked to nearly 8,000 emergency room visits in 2008. That was up more than 70 percent from reports in 2004.
An FDA analysis concluded that dextromethorphan is abused less often than the popular painkiller codeine but more often than pseudophedrine, a cold medicine ingredient that can be processed into methamphetamine.
The FDA has agreed to reconsider how it regulates the drug at the behest of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has raised concerns about increasing abuse among adolescents.
On Sept. 14, the FDA will ask a panel of outside experts whether dextromethorphan should be available only as a prescription. The agency is not required to follow the group's advice, though it often does.
Mandating a prescription for the drug would deal a major blow to over-the-counter drug makers, which use the drug in dozens of combination cold medicines. Popular brands containing dextromethorphan include Wyeth's Dimetapp, Bayer's Alka Seltzer Flu Plus and Procter & Gamble's Vicks cough medicines. The drug is available in pills, gel caps, liquids and other forms.
Most industry observers don't expect the FDA to mandate a prescription on those products due to the enormous workload it would create for doctors and pharmacists.
One alternative could involve placing the drugs behind the counter, though the FDA's review did not discuss specific proposals.
The over-the-counter medicine industry supports prohibiting sales of the medicines to people under age 18. Such age restrictions require legal changes, and the industry's trade association has lobbied on the issue at the state and federal levels.
A spokeswoman for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association said the group has been working since 2003 to reduce abuse through educational campaigns targeting parents, teenagers and school nurses.
"It's really about trying to take this multifaceted approach to inform parents that while these medicines are safe and effective, they are also vulnerable to abuse," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Funderburk. The group represents Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and most other over-the-counter drug companies.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>
HAYDEN LAKE, Idaho - The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office reports two teenagers were rescued from the water after falling through thin ice on Avondale Lake in Hayden Lake, Idaho, Saturday afternoon. Northern Lakes Fire and Rescue, Coeur d’Alene Fire and Rescue, and the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office all responded.>>
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - The pregnant wife of a man killed by a boulder that crashed through the window of their car near Los Angeles is pleading for information that leads to the arrest of the person responsible for pushing the rock off an overpass.>>
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A man has been sentenced to more than 23 years in prison for a September 2016 crash that killed a friend. KOMO-TV reported Friday it is the second time Jacob Lee has been sent to prison for killing a passenger in a car crash. Lee was found guilty in February of vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the death of Chris Grice. Grice died Sept. 11, 2016, when the vehicle Lee was driving went off Mountain Hig...>>
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Authorities in Texas have arrested at least a dozen people for animal cruelty after interrupting what they believe was ritual sacrifice. The San Antonio Express-News reports that Bexar County sheriff's deputies found dead and dismembered animals in a San Antonio-area home Friday night after receiving calls that animals were being sacrificed.>>
SPOKANE, Wash. - Just before 9 p.m. Friday evening, neighbors told police that a man was reportedly firing a gun outside of his home on the South Hill, saying his home was being burglarized. Officers and a SWAT team arrived and found the man, confirming that the man had fired a shots inside and outside a home in the area. Officers say no burglars were found. Nearby neighbors were told to shelter in place. The armed man, who police say>>
MIAMI - Cell phone video captured a driver's almost miraculous escape after an alleged hit-and-run crash in Miami on Sunday. At one point someone bashed in several of the car's windows with a mallet. In the video, the driver of a badly damaged silver Infiniti sport-utility vehicle reversed the car out of the scene of the crash, trying to leave.>>