Health Care NewsTracker

Cough Syrup Suppression Measure Moves to Haslam

The Tennessee General Assembly are clearly not impressed with Three 6 Mafia’s ideas for how to use cough syrup.

Thursday morning the Tennessee House, in a near-unanimous decision, voted to place an age restriction on sales of cough syrup containing dextromethorphan for fear that adolescents were increasingly abusing the medication as prescribed by the Memphis-based rap group in the 2000 song “Sippin’ on Some Syrup.”

The Senate had earlier this year voted unanimously to slap an age-floor on purchases of drugs like Robitussin.

The vote on SB45 in the House was 92-1, with Lebanon Republican Mark Pody the only member voting in opposition.

The House agreed to the Senate version of the bill, which had been amended to change the penalty from criminal to civil, as well as to exempt “licensed health care facilities and prisons” and change the age-appearance at which an ID is no longer required to 30.

When taken in large quantities the medication produces a dissociative high similar to PCP or Ketamine.

However, its abuse can also cause fever, increased heart rate, vomiting, impaired judgment, slurred speech and hallucinations. And DM medications often contain acetominophen — Tylenol — high doses of which can cause liver failure.

According to House sponsor William Lamberth, the cough suppressant has substantial potential for abuse by minors looking for cheap, easy buzz. “I don’t have any facts or figures — that’s more anecdotal evidence — but it’s my understanding from doctors, pharmacists and everything else that it’s definitely a beneficial law,” he told TNReport earlier this year.

The measure is headed to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature. Its effective date is Jan. 1, 2016.

Alex Harris can be contacted at

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