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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: February 9, 2016 02:02 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Prohibiting the sale of dextromethorphan to minors
I plan to introduce legislation which prohibits the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to minors.

DXM is an ingredient in many OTC cough medicines (i.e., Robitussin, Tylenol Cough & Cold, and NyQuil) that millions of Americans use each year to help suppress coughing. When the recommended dose is taken, DXM-containing products are safe and effective. Unfortunately, some teens are abusing DXM by consuming these medicines in large amounts. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse 2015 Monitoring the Future survey, considered a leading national study on teen substance abuse, approximately 3 percent (1 in 30) of teenagers admit to abusing OTC cough medicines to get high.

My legislation amends Title 18 (Crime Code) by adding a new section making it a summary offense for a person to knowingly sell or furnish a drug product containing DXM to a minor. Additionally, a person commits a summary offense if he falsely represents himself to be 18 years of age or older to another for the purpose of procuring a DXM-containing product. A person convicted of violating this section shall pay a fine of not less than $250 nor more than $500 for the first violation and a fine of $500 for each subsequent violation. The penalties are similar to those found in section 6315 (Selling or furnishing butane to minors) and section 6316 (Selling or furnishing certain stimulants to minors).

The measure also provides that a person making a retail sale of a product containing any quantity of DXM must require and obtain proof of age from the purchaser before completing the sale, unless from the purchaser’s outward appearance the person making the sale would reasonably presume the purchaser to be 25 years of age or older. The bill does permit the sale of DXM products to minors if they have a valid prescription. Finally, the legislation would preempt any local ordinances pertaining to the sale, distribution, receipt or possession of DXM.

To date, nine states (California, New York, Arizona, Louisiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Washington and New Jersey) have enacted similar laws limiting children’s access to DXM products. Restricting access to products with DXM to minors can help in the effort to prevent teen cough medicine abuse.

Introduced as SB1144