Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Better Stock Up On Cough Medicine

This nation’s longest, most expensive, and least successful war (no, not Iraq, Afghanistan, or Viet Nam) has taken still another turn toward the absurd. The “war on drugs” people are seriously considering a rule to require a physician’s prescription for……..wait for it……cough medicine.

Cough medicine.

You think I’m exaggerating or making this up? The Food and Drug Administration is considering such a rule right now (they held another hearing yesterday), and Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-Outer Space) have already co-sponsored the Dextromethorphan Abuse Reduction Act, which would ban anyone under 18 from buying cough medicine and would mandate restrictions on the sale of cough medicine to all consumers.

Kinda like that stupid rule they made about cold medicines, like Ny-Quil, where you’re limited in the amount you can purchase at any one time - if you can get your hands on the stuff. Often it’s kept behind-the-counter at drug stores and supermarkets. Try to buy more than 3 packages of Ny-Quil (I eat the stuff like candy during the allergy seasons in spring and fall) and alarms go off throughout the store and large men with Tasers and guns instantly appear, and draw down on you.

That cold medicine law was supposed to protect us from the meth lab crowd – but guess what? Since it went into effect, meth production and use are UP everywhere!!!! Head southwest out of Madison and within an hour you’re in tweaker heartland. Ask any cop or deputy and they’ll tell you the meth business is booming (with apologies to “Breaking Bad”.)

So who says the DXM (dextromethorphan) in cough syrup is a gateway drug? Short answer: nobody.

In a survey of teachers and cops, zero-point-zero percent of cops surveyed thought DXM had a negative impact on youth, and ONE percent of teachers listed it. ONE percent. The top five from that survey are alcohol, pot, Rx drugs/pills, meth, and cocaine. DXM was dead last.

So, again, the drug war people are about to pass an absolutely ridiculous law, and tell us how they’re protecting our children from the horrible ravages of gateway drugs, while adding still another needless regulatory burden to the merchant and inconveniencing every customer.

Thanks a lot, nannies.


  1. We are in complete, total, thoroughgoing, absolute, and, um, complete agreement on this one, Colonel.

    I also note that Michelle Obama is out front in the fight against ... salt! Gawd! Spare me from the nannies and their minions.

    The Town Crank

  2. Perhaps you're swinging towards the "Leave Me Alone" voter cohort?

  3. Alas, eating enough dextromethorphan can do bad things, like make you blind, or shut off your kidneys, or make your heart race like a runaway dragster, or kill you outright.

    Therapeutic (read: mostly harmless) doses start at around 15 milligrams and run no higher than 30 mg. Recreational doses start at more than three times the highest therapeutic level, and the really loopy symptoms don't amount to much until you get into the 600 mg range - about 20 doses of the strongest over-the-counter preparations you can buy.

    So getting high on dex requires you to drink a fair amount of the foul stuff. It is not addictive, but it is hard to imagine that quaffing flagons of cough syrup can be pleasant.

    Why the risks and the hassle can be regarded as fun by some people is one of the mysteries of the human condition.

    This, of course, is where the nannies are coming from. They can never succeed in saving us from ourselves (It flies in the face of everything Darwin taught us), but they never cease to try. The fact is, sugar, fat, salt and just about anything on the drugstore shelf - even the nostrums - can be dangerously overdone.

    Dextromethorphan is probably far less dangerous than the most commonly over-served chemical, acetaminophen - which is quite poisonous in readily available doses. Swallow a small fistful of 500 mg caplets and you may be introduced to eternity. Wash them down with a glass of whiskey and your odds improve.

    How's this for the futility of the nannies? I know a person who munches Tylenol to combat his lower back pain, and regards dex preparations as a beverage during allergy season, but would be knocked into the emergency room by a peanut butter sandwich.

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