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LANDOVER, Md. -- Ahold USA said yesterday that starting May 20, its retail pharmacies will voluntarily place an age restriction of 18 years or older on buyers of medications containing dextromethorphan, prompted by what it said was "a disturbing trend of abuse of these products by young people."
"While over-the-counter products containing dextromethorphan are perfectly safe when ingested at recommended dosage levels, there's a trend among many young people towards abusing these products," noted Ahold USA s.v.p. of pharmacy operations John Fegan. "This decision was based on the need to balance the expectations of our customers who use these safe and highly effective medicines legitimately with the need to address a growing abuse crises involving many teens."
A teenage boy this past weekend overdosed on cold medication containing dextromethorphan, which he said he had purchased at a Giant Food Store in Camp Hill, Pa. The store later put such products behind the pharmacy counter.
Dextromethorphan is a synthetically produced ingredient found in many over-the-counter cough and cold remedies. According to research conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one in 10 teens, or 2.4 million adolescents, have intentionally taken cough medicine for the purpose of getting high. Abuse of products with dextromethorphan can lead to death and other serious adverse health conditions, including brain damage, seizure, loss of consciousness, and irregular heart beat, Ahold said.
Ahold USA operates the Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., headquartered in Quincy, Mass.; Giant Food, LLC, based in Landover, Md.; Tops Markets, LLC, with headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y.; and Giant Food Stores, LLC, based in Carlisle, Pa. Jointly they operate over 800 stores.