It would be illegal to regulate the sale of Robitussin-DM beyond the voluntary pull from the shelves practiced by Utah retailers, state officials said Tuesday.

"We probably don't have the statutory authority to intervene with the sale or distribution of such medications," said David Robinson, state director of Occupational and Professional Licensing.And Neil Jensen, executive director, Utah Pharmaceutical Association, said health care professionals can't always anticipate what medications young people will abuse. "We don't always anticipate what young people will find to get a buzz or a high, whatever the right word is."

Jensen said his association is recommending educational programs for students and parents to avoid potentially life-threatening situations like Robitussin-DM abuse. "They need to know potentially everything in the world, if used to extremes, can be harmful."

Jacob Miller, assistant vice president of A.H. Robins, which manufacturers Robitussin, said the company has had sporadic complaints of Robitussin-DM abuse in other areas of the country, but so far the epidemic is limited to Salt Lake City.

"These things, they spread like wildflowers and then they die out."

Robitussin-DM has been on the market for nearly 25 years and was developed as a non-narcotic, non-addictive substitute for codeine as a cough suppressant.