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Moriarty, Diegnan, Wimberly, Vainieri Huttle, Gusciora & Sumter Bill to Help Prevent Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse Gains Final Legislative Approval

Measure Would Penalize Sale of DXM-Containing Products to Minors

Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Patrick Diegnan, Benjie Wimberly, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora and Shavonda Sumter sponsored to help address the prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic plaguing New Jersey gained final legislative approval on Monday.

The bill (A-622/1469) would prohibit the sale of dextromethorphan (DXM) to minors. Under the measure, any person who sells a product containing DXM as an active ingredient to someone under 18 years of age would be subject to a maximum civil penalty of $750. The provisions of the bill would not apply to a prescription medication dispensed by a pharmacist pursuant to a valid prescription.

The bill would also require the Department of Health to include a comprehensive list of products that contain DXM as an active ingredient on its website.

“DXM abuse is becoming increasingly worrisome for law enforcement, parents and health care officials across the country,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “It’s a scary thought, but adolescents are the primary abusers, mainly because it’s cheap and easy to obtain and many parents simply don’t know about its potential abuse. With a few simple steps like the ones outlined in this bill, we can combat the risk and ensure this medicine is used properly.”

“When used as directed, products that contain DXM are safe and effective, but when they are abused – which, unfortunately, has become a trend – they can cause a great deal of harm or even be fatal,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “This legislation is not only a major step toward preventing young people from purchasing dangerous over-the-counter drugs but also a declaration to them that these products can be just as hazardous as the alcohol and cigarettes they’re also barred from buying.”

“For many teens who don’t fully grasp the danger of these products, a devastating battle with addiction can begin with a seemingly routine trip to the drugstore for cheap bottle of cough syrup,” said Wimberly (Bergen/Passaic). “Requiring consumers to present proof of age before making a purchase can be a simple deterrent that saves lives.”

“Young people often don’t understand the imminent threat that the recreational misuse of DXM-containing medications presents, and their parents often don’t even realize that ‘robotripping’ is a trend,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “While there’s no practical way to eliminate minors’ access to DXM entirely, this legislation will limit that access and hopefully prevent young people from harming themselves and other people.”

“The abuse of this ingredient is frightening for many reasons, especially because the drug is so easy to obtain and many teenagers abusing it simply don’t understand the risk,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “We make it difficult for adolescents to obtain other potentially harmful drugs, and this should be no different.”

“This bill, fundamentally, is about safeguarding the wellness of young New Jersey residents and thereby safeguarding the future of this state,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “We know DXM abuse is a devastating trend among New Jersey’s youth, and it is imperative that we take action.”

DXM is an active ingredient found in many cough suppressants and cold medicines in the form of over-the-counter cough syrup and cough and cold tablets or gel caps. Brand names include Vicks 44, Robitussin Maximum Strength and St. Joseph Cough Suppressant.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.