Today, Americans for Tax Reform, along with twenty other organizations representing millions of concerns citizens, sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration outlining our concerns regarding an advisory hearing scheduled for Tuesday. The hearing, being held to discuss the anti-tussive ingredient dextromethorphan found in cold medications, could catalyze a rulemaking process that would require any medicine containing dextromethorphan to be restricted by prescription.
This move would represent an enormous government intrusion into personal consumer decision based on negligible evidence that dextromethorphan presents any kind of risk. Nanny staters are quick to point to a 70 percent increase between 2004 and 2008 in emergency room visits involving dextromethorphan to justify this intrusion; they fail to acknowledge that this puts dextromethorphan-related visits at a little over 1 percent of all drug-related incidences. Moreover, this number doesn’t include visits that are the result of an adverse reaction, which made up about thirty percent of these instances in 2004.
What’s more, the FDA has failed to show how reclassifying cough medicines would address its concern that these medications are abused: prescription drug abuse is twice as common as recreational use of medicines containing dextromethorphan. This signals the tenuous footing of the FDA’s argument for restricting access to common cold medications.
We weighed in previously against the FDA's mistep and the issue has been gaining traction as cough sufferers balk at this power grab that will serve only to increase the misery of the common cold. With the evidence stacked against it, the FDA would be wise to heed our advice at tomorrow’s hearing and leave cough medicines where they belong—over the counter and out of regulatory overreach.