A parents group that spearheaded a successful campaign to get Robitussin-DM pulled off store shelves and placed behind pharmacy counters is now targeting similar medications.
"We want anything containing dextromethorphan pulled. We singled out Robitussin-DM because that is what the kids are using," said Cheri Groesbeck, organizer of a petition drive that in two weeks has garnered nearly 1,000 signatures.The parents' goal is to get 22,000 parents and teens to sign an amended petition asking that all products containing dextromethorphan be distributed from behind the pharmacy counter "in an attempt to reduce the theft of those potentially dangerous drugs."
In the wake of reports of widespread abuse of Robitussin-DM by Salt Lake area teens, A.H. Robins, manufacturer of Robitussin cough syrups, Friday asked pharmacists to dispense Robitussin-DM and Robitussin-CF from behind their counters only.
In outlets without pharmacies, the company said it would remove its products entirely.
Several grocery stores and pharmacies Friday voluntarily began complying with Robins' request and a similar one issued by the Utah Pharmaceutical Association.
A.H. Robins executives, who are expected to arrive in Utah Monday to do further research on Utah's "Robo" epidemic, said they hope other drug manufacturers will follow Robins' lead and also clear copycat products from grocery and drug store shelves.
The American Pharmaceutical Association's Handbook of Non-Prescription Drugs lists more than 100 antitussive products, approximately 76 of which contain dextromethorphan.
"It is so helpful that they (A.H. Robins) are willing to be part of the solution, instead of just the problem," said Rep. Craig H. Moody, R-Sandy. "I think we need to pat them on the back for being a good corporate citizen. A lot of manufacturers would have just walked away and said, `When you pass legislation, we will do something.' "
Moody, who Friday night met with parents active in the petition drive and teens who have abused Robitussin-DM, said the state currently has no authority to prohibit the use of any of these drugs. Nor can the state legally require that a drug be placed behind a druggist's counter.
That would require a change in the state statutes, he said.
Members of the House Health Interim Committee will address the issue during their April meeting. It will also be discussed at the Tuesday meeting of the state Pharmaceutical Board.
Moody said many parents don't want Robitussin-DM made a prescription drug. "They don't want the drug restricted or not available, but they want it off the shelf," he said.
"The kids who talked (at Friday night's meeting) said 90-95 percent of the medication used isn't bought. They either steal it or drink it in the stores," the lawmaker said.
But Moody, House majority leader, warned parents not to be complacent even if medications containing dextromethorphan are better controlled.