A Senate committee approved a measure Thursday that would encourage all retailers to implement voluntary restrictions on the sale of over-the-counter medications containing dextromethorphan. The bill, House Bill 1794, is authored by Sen. Ron Justice.
“I have been contacted by every major state retail association and their support for his measure has been overwhelming,” said Justice, R-Chickasha. “Oklahoma retailers don’t need more mandatory restrictions placed on them by the Legislature. What we need and what they want is a common-sense approach to educating employees and the public about the danger of all over-the-counter products and those containing DXM without inhibiting the public’s ability to purchase these common medicines.”
The legislation would authorize the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Oklahoma Department of Health to develop and implement, in cooperation with Oklahoma retailers, a program to educate retailers, their employees and consumers about the dangers of over-the-counter-product abuse.
The program would include and be implemented no later than January 1, 2008, and would include:
clear goals related to stemming the abuse of over-the-counter products;
voluntary age restrictions prohibiting any person under the age of 18 from purchasing items containing DXM;
educational materials aimed at retail clerks regarding ways to oversee the sale of harmful over-the-counter products and products containing DXM;
point-of-sale educational materials about over-the-counter-product abuse available for customers; and
appropriate signage indicating the participation of the retail establishment in the program.
“What State retailers have expressed to me is support for legislation that advocates voluntary retail sales restrictions on over-the-counter products and opposition to placing mandatory regulations on the retail industry,” said Justice. “They want real solutions that address these issues without the Legislature trying to place a one-size-fits-all band-aid on a diverse retail industry.”
Justice said he has received support for his measure from the Oklahoma Grocers Association (OGA), the State Chamber, the Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (OPMCSA) and the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association (OPhA).
“I believe using a “carrot instead of a stick” approach with state retailers will go much farther in establishing a life-long partner in prevention. Additional sales restrictions only serve to decrease product availability and place a greater strain on already limited retail and enforcement resources,” said Justice.
He also indicated that the retail industry has shown a willingness to dedicate the necessary time, money and efforts for education and outreach.
The measure now moves to the full Senate for consideration.