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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  
May 31, 2011

For More Information, Contact:
Melissa Figueroa (916) 651-4011 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phil Yost (650) 688-6384 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


SACRAMENTO – The State Senate voted today 37 to 0 to approve Senate Bill 514, by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), which prohibits the sale of over the counter cough medicine containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to minors.

According to WebMD, and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, one in ten teenagers say they’ve used DXM to get high – making it more popular than LSD, cocaine, ecstasy or meth. The California Poison Control System reports that DXM abuse calls for children under age 17 have increased 850% in the past ten years, making DXM abuse the most commonly reported type of abuse in this age group.

When used appropriately, DXM is a safe and effective ingredient in over-the-counter cold and cough medicines; but taken in large quantities, it produces intoxication and hallucinations. Since it can be purchased legally by minors, it is popular as a recreational drug, known by the street names DXM, robo, skittles, Triple C, Vitamin C, dex, and tussin.

“Ingesting too much cold medicine can produce a dangerous, life-threatening result,” said Simitian. “Right now these products are cheap, easy and legal for young people to obtain. Prohibiting sale to a minor without a prescription will limit the opportunity for abuse.”

Restricting the sale of DXM was a winning submission in Simitian’s 2004 “There Oughta Be a Law” contest from Wayne Benitez and Ron Lawrence, both with the Palo Alto Police Department at the time. That year the bill stalled in the Legislature in the face of significant opposition. Simitian reintroduced the bill this year as one of two ‘recycled’ entries in the contest.

“It can be tough sometimes,” said Simitian, “when an idea is ahead of its time.  Back in 2004 Officers Benitez and Lawrence were on top of an emerging problem.  But most of my colleagues had never heard of ‘robotripping’ or ‘skittling,’ and figured if they’d never heard of it, then it probably wasn’t a problem. Today the extent and seriousness of the problem is better understood.”

Since 2004, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress and in half a dozen other states. And product manufacturers with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which opposed Simitian’s 2004 effort, are now on board. “[T]he industry wholeheartedly supports efforts to prevent intentional misuse of medicines containing dextromethorphan,” said the Association in its letter of support for SB 514.

Both Benitez and Lawrence were surprised but pleased when Simitian called earlier this year to say he wanted to try again this year, seven years after the initial effort stalled.  And both Benitez and Lawrence were on hand in the Capitol to testify on behalf of the bill in a May hearing before the Senate Public Safety Committee.

“How do you prevent it from getting into the hands of kids in the first place? That’s what this bill addresses,” said Benitez.

Senate Bill 514 is supported by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the California Peace Officers Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the California State Board of Pharmacy among other groups.

A violation of SB 514 would be an infraction. The bill provides an exception for sale to minors with a prescription. For more information on SB 514 visit