Press Releases

Upton and Larsen Re-Introduce Legislation to Prevent DXM Abuse

Washington, DC, February 15, 2007

U.S. Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rick Larsen (D-WA) have re-introduced legislation to crack down on the bulk sale of dextromethorphan (DXM). The Dextromethorphan Distribution Act of 2007 (H.R. 970) makes it illegal to distribute unfinished DXM to a person or company not registered with the FDA and will help prevent the abuse of this drug, which has resulted in deaths across the country. This bipartisan legislation passed the House in 2006.

“As a parent of two teenagers, I am alarmed by the number of teens abusing cough syrup and pure DXM to get a high,” said Upton.  “Kids are under the false impression that getting high off of DXM is harmless because it is an ingredient in cough syrup.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  Our kids are playing a game of Russian roulette each time they get high off of DXM.  Sooner or later, someone dies – enough is enough.  As it stands, DXM is only a click of a mouse away from arriving on our kids’ doorsteps.  This common sense piece of legislation will put an end to the bulk sale of DXM over the Internet, and keep our kids safe from the dangers of this type of drug abuse.”

DXM is a non-narcotic cough suppressant used in many over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.  While medicines containing DXM are used safely by millions of Americans each year, taken in extremely large quantities DXM produces a hallucinogenic high and can cause brain damage, seizures and death. 

Studies have shown that teenagers are obtaining unfinished DXM to get high by consuming large amounts of the powder or mixing it with alcohol. Recent research indicates that abuse of DXM has increased sharply in recent years.  According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 1 in 11 teenagers have used cough medicines to get high. 

“The only people who should be buying unfinished DXM are those who manufacture cough and cold medications,” said Larsen. “This commonsense bill will protect our children from a new breed of drug dealer selling dangerous substances over the Internet.”

In April of 2005, two teenagers from Whatcom County, Washington overdosed on DXM they had purchased online.  The investigation of their deaths showed the teenagers had ordered the drug over the Internet from two men in Indiana who were selling pure DXM after obtaining it from sources in India.  Three other children from Florida and Virginia also died from overdosing on DXM they had purchased from the same two men.

“Our laws are lacking when children can order shipments of dextromethorphan over the Internet,” said Sheriff Bill Elfo, who investigated the DXM overdoses in Whatcom County. “The illicit distribution of this drug has caused the deaths of two young people in our community and others across the nation.   Illicit purveyors of this product need to be held accountable.  This legislation will go a long way towards combating this problem on a national level.”

The Dextromethorphan Distribution Act of 2007 is endorsed by the American Pharmacists Association, Consumer Healthcare Products Association, Food Marketing Institute, National Association of Chain Drug Stores and The Partnership for a Drug Free America.