West Virginia Becomes 18th State to Adopt Age-18 Sales Law on Cough Medicine

13:24 EDT 26 Mar 2019 | Businesswire

To combat teen abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines containing the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM), West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed into law S.B. 518, prohibiting the sale of DXM-containing products to minors without a prescription.

“West Virginia is now the 18th state to pass an age-18 sales law, joining states across the country in recognizing that limiting teen access to DXM is a proven way to prevent abuse,” said Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) President and CEO Scott Melville. “CHPA thanks Governor Justice for signing this important bill into law as well as Senate Health and Human Resources Committee Chairman Mike Maroney for his leadership on this issue.”

While millions of Americans use products containing DXM to safely treat their symptoms, according to the 2018 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) annual Monitoring the Future survey, one in 30 teens abuses OTC cough medicine containing DXM to get high.

“Smart public policy and education are both vitally important to combating teen OTC cough medicine abuse,” continued Melville. “This is why CHPA has long supported state efforts to limit teen access to DXM and has worked to increase parental awareness through its Stop Medicine Abuse campaign. This new law will help raise awareness about the issue with parents, while ensuring access for the millions of families who responsibly use products containing DXM to treat common cough symptoms.”

In 2012, California became the first state to prohibit sales of DXM-containing products to minors. Since then, governors from Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania have all signed similar laws.

“Because West Virginian retailers and pharmacies will now be required to check identification before selling DXM-containing medicine to consumers, retailers are essential to the effective implementation of DXM age-restriction laws,” said Melville.

The new law goes into effect on May 31, 2019.

Recognizing the important role that retailers plan in the effective implementation of state DXM age-restriction laws, CHPA launched a retailer education initiative as part of its Stop Medicine Abuse campaign, aimed at engaging parents and community members about teen abuse of OTC cough medicine. Retailers can download or order free materials for employees and consumers.

Please visit for more information about teen DXM abuse and other helpful resources for parents and community members.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 138-year-old national trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system more than $7, contributing a total of $146 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to empowering self-care by preserving and expanding choice and availability of consumer healthcare products.

Lauren Bloomberg


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