NACDS to FDA advisory committee: Curb DXM abuse without impeding appropriate use

ALEXANDRIA, Va. As the Food and Drug Administration's Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee debated Tuesday on ways to curb abuse of cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores testified that the scheduling of dextromethorphan under the federal Controlled Substances Act is not the right solution.

“Dextromethorphan is consumers’ No.1 choice to treat cough. Depriving consumers of the option to self-medicate with dextromethorphan would have substantial public health consequences because cough and cold are extremely prevalent in the U.S. population, affecting the average adult two to four times per year,” NACDS VP regulatory affairs Kevin Nicholson said to the FDA Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee.

NACDS also urged the committee to consider the approach set forth by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in the Dextromethorphan Abuse Reduction Act of 2009, which would prohibit the sale of dextromethorphan to minors.

“Dextromethorphan is the most common ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicines in the United States,” Nicholson stated. “[The] abuse of dextromethorphan is concentrated primarily among teenagers, and this concentration makes possible a targeted and strategic approach to preventing abuse.”

In addition to working on legislative remedies, the association also has worked with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Drug Enforcement Administration to help raise awareness of the scourge of medication abuse, particularly among young people.