Federal health regulators are weighing restrictions on Robitussin, NyQuil and other cough suppressants to curb cases of abuse that send thousands of people to the hospital each year.
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday posted its review of dextromethorphan, an ingredient found in more than 100 over-the-counter medications that is sometimes abused for its euphoric effects. The practice, dubbed “robotripping,” involves taking more than 25 times the recommended dose of a cold medicine and is mainly associated with teenagers.
At high doses the drug causes increased blood pressure, heart rate and fever. Abusers can also suffer side effects from other ingredients mixed in cough medicines, such as acetaminophen, which can cause liver damage.
“Because of the drug’s perceived safety, ease of availability, and desired psychoactive effects, it is sought after by those seeking to alter their mental state,” states the FDA review.
According to the FDA, inappropriate use of the ingredient was linked to nearly 8,000 emergency room visits in 2008. That was up more than 70 percent from reports in 2004.
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