A new piece of legislation introduced in the US Senate seeks to prevent the abuse of dextromethorphan, a popular cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter (OTC) products and the subject of increasing abuse.
The bill, S. 3376 - The Preventing Abuse of Cough Treatments Act of 2012 (PACT Act), was introduced in the Senate on 11 July by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and is cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
In a statement, Casey said the legislation is aimed at preventing teenagers from abusing the drug, which can cause hallucinogenic effects when taken in excessive quantities.
"By addressing easy access to purchasing cough syrup for teens, the main cause of the harmful trend of its abuse, my bill will help keep our children safe and lessen the strain cough syrup abuse has put on families, hospitals and law enforcement," said Senator Casey. "My common-sense legislation will prevent kids from purchasing a drug that has dangerous consequences when abused to get high, while also ensuring it is available to those with a legitimate need for it."
Several states, including New Kersey, Nebraska, Alabama and Mississippi already have similar laws in place to restrict access to the drug in light of its potential for abuse.
Restricting Access to Teens and Unauthorized Bulk Distributors
The bill would restrict the sale of any product containing dextromethorphan to anyone under the age of 18, and requires retailers to request government-issued photo identification from purchasers.
Some exceptions to this restriction will exist, including a sales made "pursuant to a validly issued prescription" or to individuals who are married or have children.
Enforcement penalties for failing to assure the age of a purchaser will range from $1,000 for a first offense up to $5,000 for third and subsequent offenses.
Bulk sales of dextromethorphan would also be restricted under the law. The legislation makes it illegal to "possess or receive unfinished dextromethorphan" unless the entity is registered, licensed or approved by a State or the Federal government. An exception is built into the law to include those employed in the transport of dextromethorphan between legal entities.
Those found to have broken the bulk distribution provisions of the law would be subject to civil fines of up to $100,000 per offense.
S. 3376 - The Preventing Abuse of Cough Treatments Act of 2012 (PACT Act)