Bill aims to ban sale of DXM to minors

Bill aims to ban sale of DXM to minors

Author: Jason Gottesman/Wednesday, December 20, 2017/Categories: News and Views

Legislation currently making its way through the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would ban the sale of a common over-the-counter medication to minors out of fear of abuse and misuse of the drug.


House Bill 1951, sponsored by Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), would move over-the-counter cough medicines with dextromethorphan (otherwise known as DXM or DM) behind the pharmacy to be sold only when proper identification ensures the person buying the medicine is over the age of 18.


“The House Judiciary Committee recently held an informational meeting at which committee members learned about the alarming variety of harmful substances that are being abused by young people in Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Toohil of her legislation.


“One example known as lean, sizzurp or purple drank, is a mixture of either codeine or DXM with soda or candy. My bill would help to limit the purchase of DXM to get a cheap high.”


According to Rep. Toohil, the street names of the drug come from the resulting intoxicating effect that causes users to slouch or lose control of motor functions and appear as though leaning.


“Children have been reported abusing drugs like Robitussin DM, they can also come in the form of other cough syrups, tablets, or powder,” she said.


“When taken as directed, DM is an effective cough syrup. However, children—mainly teenagers—who abuse this substance have effects such as confusion, dizziness, double or blurred vision, slurred speech, impaired physical coordination, nausea, vomiting and it can cause rapid heartbeat, drowsiness, disorientation, and feelings of euphoria may be experienced as well as different plateaus ranging from mild distortion of color and sound to hallucinations.”


Under the legislation, anyone appearing under the age of 25 would need to show identification at the pharmacy showing they are at least 18 years of age before being able to purchase the DXM-laced medication.


The bill also creates a new summary offense related to the sale of DXM that would lay a fine of $250-$500 on those selling the medication to minors or on those misrepresenting their age to obtain the DXM medication.


Those not meeting the age limit, but having a valid prescription would be exempt.


While the legislation passed out of committee unanimously earlier this month, there was some concern expressed about the legislation, particularly in how it could apply to young parents.


“My understanding is that a 17-year old mom would not be able to purchase cough syrup without a prescription,” said Rep. Dan Miller (D-Allegheny). “It’s the intent [we are trying to regulate] more than the legitimate use by a family member.”


While Rep. Toohil noted that minors in these situations could obtain a prescription to legally obtain DM-laced drugs without penalty under her bill, but she would work with Rep. Miller to alleviate any concern.


“You raise an important question,” she said.


Nine other states have similar restrictions on DM sales.


The legislation’s next step is to be considered by the full House.