The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 23, 2012

Police: Teens consumed dozens of cold medicine tablets in search of high

WATSONTOWN — Excessive noise drew borough police to a residence early Wednesday morning, where they found four teenagers “significantly impaired” from ingesting over-the-counter cold pills, the second such case in two weeks in Watsontown.

The teens, ranging in age from 13 to 18, took Mucinex DM, Coricidin and generic brands containing the drug dextromethorphan, police said.

One teen said they ingested 38 pills, according to police, who recovered 19 boxes of medicine from the home.

“We have a whole table full of (boxes) here,” said Cpl. Wade Danley of the Watsontown police.

The teens were taken to area hospitals for treatment, according to police.

Police are investigating how the teens got the medication — which authorities suspect came from several different locations — but unless retail theft is involved, the youths will not be charged, Danley said.

“Abuse of this stuff is not illegal in itself,” he said.

Last week, police responded to an incident in which an 18-year-old man had taken 18 Mucinex DM pills and became “seriously impaired,” police said.

Dextromethorphan can be fatal in extremely high doses, according to Kathy Grandizio-Stephens, owner and pharmacist at the Danville Pharmacy.

“When they’re (doing this) they don’t realize that it can go further,” she said. “I don’t really think that people realize how dangerous these over-the-counter medications can be when they are abused.”

A box of Coricidin containing dextromethorphan sells for $5.89 at the Danville Pharmacy, Grandizio-Stephens said, but the relatively low price hasn’t stopped people from trying to steal the products. Several months ago, staff at the pharmacy discovered a box of cough medicine emptied in the store’s bathroom, Grandizio-Stephens said.

Now, the medicines are shelved near the register, where staff can monitor them. Grandizio-Stephens also said she keeps only two boxes per product on the shelf and won’t sell to minors without parental consent.

“This,” she said, “is definitely an issue.”


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