OR senator hopes new bill will help curb the abuse of drug found - KPTV - FOX 12

OR senator hopes new bill will help curb the abuse of drug found in cough suppressants

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SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

It may soon be illegal for Oregon teens to buy cough medicine without a prescription. It's all part of a proposed law to curb the abuse of DXM, a common drug found in cough suppressants.

"I've seen too many kids OD on cough syrup," said Salem resident Robert Villarreal. 

Lawmakers say Oregon adolescents are overdosing on Dextromethorphan, or DXM, an active ingredient in cough medicine known for its euphoria-inducing side effects when ingested in high amounts.

When misused, the FDA says DXM can cause seizures, brain damage and even death. 

"A lot of kids are doing that in school," said Salem 7th Grader Angela Guass. "They just take it and they told me if I wanted to do it I could, I said 'no,' I didn't want to do it."

Lawmakers say DXM is found in some 125 over the counter medications including NyQuil and Theraflu. Cough suppressants that are extremely easy for teens to get their hands on.

"We know it's a big problem and in essence it's part of the opioid epidemic," Said Senator Elizabeth Seiner Hayward.

An epidemic that prompted Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward to action.

"Teens think of it as a harmless thing because it's over the counter right, but we know that lots of drugs that are over the counter drugs are very harmful if taken inappropriately and DXM is one of those drugs," said Sen. Seiner Hayward. 

Steiner Hayward carried Senate Bill 743 this legislative session, which would make it illegal to sell DXM to kids under 18 without a prescription. If a customer appears to be under the age of 25 they must also show their ID.

The hope is to make these common drugs less available for teens to abuse. 

"In general we know younger brains are more susceptible to addiction," said Seiner Hayward. "They haven't had the kind of brain development that helps them with impulse control, so if someone says 'here try this,' they're much more likely to do it. It's a combination of brain development and peer pressure that make it difficult to say no, and we need to reduce the temptation to make bad choices."

The bill also establishes fines for businesses that don't comply with the law and requires trade associations that represent manufactures of products containing DXM to provide businesses with a list of those products.

"I think it's worth it to be honest, they should crack down more on things, otherwise you're going to get kids doing worse things when they're younger," said Villarreal. "If they're doing that, imagine what else they're trying to get into."

SB 743 unanimously passed on the senate floor. Sen. Steiner Hayward is now hoping to carry that momentum to the house.

"I think everyone wants to protect Oregon's kids," Hayward added.

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