FDA Panel Won’t Restrict Cough Syrup

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Cough syrup pouring into spoon, (Close-up)

As Healthland noted earlier, the FDA considered imposing an age limit on purchasing cough syrup, due to its abuse among teenagers. But last night, a panel assembled by the FDA voted to keep cough syrups like Robitussin and Tylenol Cough on the shelves and available to all ages.

Teenagers drink entire bottles of the syrup, hoping to get a hallucinatory effect from dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in over-the-counter cough suppressants. Last year, these attempts, often called “robotripping” accounted for  8,000 emergency room trips.  Drinking high levels of dextromethorphan can cause increased heart rate, fever and liver damage.

But the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), which represented cough syrup manufacturers to the FDA, argued that teenagers generally think the practice of robotripping gives a “lousy high” and is for “losers.”

If the panel voted to restrict the syrup, it would have had Schedule V status, which would have made it available only in pharmacies, rather than grocery and convenience stores.  The CHPA argued that pharmacies in poor areas are unlikely to carry Schedule V products, so an unrelated population could be affected by a change in status.

More on Time.com:

Is That Cough a Sign of Pneumonia? There’s an App For That

A Quick Guide to the FDA

A-Z Guide to Cold Medicine