Father pushing for more regulations of over the counter cold medication

Last week Robert Packer watched Pinellas County deputies arrest his son at his house.

Deputies were called after neighbors saw Packer's son, Ryan, breaking into the home.

Packer said his son was high at the time on a drug that's cheap, legal and available at any pharmacy.

"His whole world was being on them pills," Packer said.

Packer said his son was high on over-the-counter cold medicine and that it is heartbreaking to see him controlled by the drugs.

"It's just a horrible thing. I wouldn't wish it on any parent." Packer said.

Packer says his son has been taking heavy doses of over-the-counter cold medicine for eight months and that he's been in and out of jail.

Mary Lynn Ulrey with DACCO, a drug rehab facility, said the high comes from an ingredient used as a cough suppressant. It can be found in certain pills and bottles of cough syrup.

"A 15 mg or 30 mg dose is what you would treat a cough with, but 360 mg is in a bottle. So you have to drink half a bottle or three quarters of a bottle," she said. "It gives you a quick high."

She said it can also cause you to hallucinate.

This has been a consistent problem in the bay area for years. 

Poison Control reports that over the last four years in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties it has averaged 121 calls for intentional abuse of cough and cold products.

Packer said he would like to see cough and cold medicine regulated like allergy medication.

"Put them behind the pharmacist counter. You can only get one or two boxes. And you have to be 18 and you have to show ID," Packer said.

We made several calls to find out what, if anything, is in the works to make this medicine less accessible. Ultimately we were told this is an FDA issue, but so far we've not heard back.

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