Larsen Bill to Protect Kids from DXM Abuse Passes the House</A

Oct 15, 2007

Washington, D.C. — Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Fred Upton (R-MI) to crack down on the bulk sale of dextromethorphan (DXM) passed the House today by a voice vote. The Dextromethorphan Distribution Act of 2007 (H.R. 970) will help prevent the abuse of DXM -- which has led to deaths in Whatcom county and other parts of the country -- by making it illegal to distribute unfinished DXM to a person or company not registered with the FDA. Larsen’s legislation needs to pass the Senate before it can be signed into law.

In 2005, two teenagers in Whatcom County died after overdosing on unfinished DXM they bought on the Internet,” said Larsen. “The loss of these children is a tragedy that will be forever felt by their families and their community.  We cannot continue to allow this dangerous drug to be only a click of the mouse away from our homes and our children. I urge the Senate to act quickly and approve this commonsense measure to protect our kids.”

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. 

“Following an investigation into the dextromethorphan deaths of two teenagers, the Sheriff's Office was shocked to find how simple it was to purchase the drug over the Internet and have it shipped into our community from out-of-state,” said Sheriff Bill Elfo, who investigated the DXM overdoses in Whatcom County. “Congressional action was needed to close loopholes in the law. The legislation offered by Representative Rick Larsen will save lives and go to a long way towards combating this problem on a national level.  The law enforcement community appreciates Representative Larsen's leadership and diligence on this issue.”

“This is a matter of life and death, and we must shatter the myth that it is safe for our kids to get high off of DXM because it is a common ingredient in cough syrup,” said Upton. “As a parent of two teenagers, I am alarmed by growing trend of teens abusing cough syrup and pure DXM to get a high.  Our kids are engaging in a game of Russian roulette each time they get high off of DXM, and sooner or later, someone dies.  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.”

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.