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NACDS Urges FDA Not to Limit Legitimate Dextromethorphan Use

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) this week testified before a meeting of the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee to ask the administration to curtail the abuse of dextromethorphan while not impinging on its legitimate use as a cough suppressant.

“NACDS is committed to pursuing effective strategies to help prevent the abuse of both prescription and over-the-counter medications, and the devastating effects of such abuse on peoples’ lives and on society,” NACDS VP of regulatory affairs Kevin Nicholson testified before the committee.

Nicholson noted that NACDS is against the scheduling of dextromethorphan under the federal Controlled Substances Act, as it would lead to unnecessary rises in health care costs, including heavier administrative burdens for scheduling visits, conducting consultations and handling additional prescriptions.

“Dextromethorphan is consumers’ No. 1 choice to treat cough. Depriving consumers of the option to self-medicate with dextromethorphan would have substantial public health consequences, because cough and cold are extremely prevalent in the U.S. population, affecting the average adult two to four times per year,” he explained.

NACDS asked the committee to consider the approach developed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in the Dextromethorphan Abuse Reduction Act of 2009, which would ban the sale of the drug to minors.

“Dextromethorphan is the most common ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicines in the United States,” said Nicholson. “[The] abuse of dextromethorphan is concentrated primarily among teenagers, and this concentration makes possible a targeted and strategic approach to preventing abuse.”

As well as working on legislative remedies, the Arlington, Va.-based association, which represents traditional drug stores and supermarkets and mass merchants with pharmacies, has also collaborated with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Drug Enforcement Administration to help boost awareness of medication abuse, particularly among youths.

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