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Texas enacts DXM age-restriction law

Texas is now the 19th state to implement age restrictions on purchases of products containing dextromethorphan. Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott on May 17 signed into law a measure that restricts OTC cough medicine sales to consumers ages 18 years old and older.

Texas’ joining the ranks of such states as California, New York and Florida earned it praise from the Consumer Health Care Products Association.

“For over a decade, OTC manufacturers have worked alongside anti-substance abuse advocates and lawmakers to curb teen cough medicine abuse,” said CHPA President and CEO Scott Melville. “There is now strong evidence to suggest that age-restriction policies like the one signed into law by Gov. Abbott, in combination with public education, have contributed to the very significant decline in DXM abuse rates in recent years. We are encouraged by the success we’ve seen to date and the ongoing momentum behind this issue. These types of efforts are critical while the nation addresses substance abuse as a major public health issue.”

The organization noted that DXM is a safe ingredient that is used in more than 100 OTC medicines, though it also often is abused to get high. The 2019 National Institute on Drug Abuse Monitoring the Future study noted that 1-in-30 teens admitted to abusing DXM to get high. That number is nearly half what was reported when it was first reported in 2006.

“Enacting age restrictions for products containing DXM will go a long way to reducing the misuse of this medication and we support the state’s decision to help protect kids and teens through this bill,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, executive vice president of external and government relations at the Center on Addiction. “Generally, DXM is a substance of last resort for teens and it is chosen in large part because of its widespread availability. The more difficult it becomes for teens to obtain this product, the more we will be able to drive down its misuse and all of the negative consequences associated with it.”

Melville also thanked Texas state Rep. Garnet Coleman and Sen. Kel Seliger for leading the legislative effort.

“The more we do to restrict access to minors, while maintaining access to the millions of Americans who use these products responsibly, the better,” Melville said. “It’s therefore our hope that the federal government moves forward with bipartisan nationwide age-restriction legislation introduced earlier this year by U.S. Reps. Doris Matsui and Bill Johnson.”
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