Tuesday, September 21, 2010
7 News Investigations: Deadly Dose?
A local teen dies after overdosing on over-the-counter cold medicine. Doctors say it's a growing problem in South Florida, because the drugs are easy to get. 7's Lynn Martinez shows us how this boy's family is now trying to prevent another child from getting a "Deadly Dose."
WSVN -- Roger Maxfield and his wife, Marisol, just did the hardest thing a parent can do: they buried their teenage son.
Roger Maxfield, father: "It was probably the worst I have ever experienced in my life. No family should have to bury their son. It should be the other way around."
Andy was only 19, and his parents say he had a drug addiction he just could not kick.
Marisol Maxfield, mother: "He was very talkative. His eyes would be very glassy. He would sweat, and just stumbling, slurring."
His drug of choice wasn't illegal street drugs. Shockingly, it was over-the-counter cough and cold medicine you can easily buy at any drug store.
Roger Maxfield: "I was like, how can you be getting high on this stuff? As it turned out, he was getting very high on it. Eventually, he got addicted to it."
More than a hundred over-the-counter cold medicines contain the ingredient dextromethorphan, or DXM. Doctors say in high doses, it can give you an extreme high.
Andy told his parents he would take dozens of pills at one time.
Roger Maxfield: "He told us he really wanted to stop. But a minute later, he said, 'But I can't. You know, I will probably do it again, because I can't control myself.' I said, 'At the rate you're going, you're not going to make it to next week.'"
Just days after that haunting conversation, Andy was found dead in a stranger's bed along with several empty boxes of cold medicine.
Roger Maxfield: "Basically, his heart stopped. He expired. Alone, no one."
South Florida doctors say they're seeing a spike in kids overdosing on these cold medicines.
Dr. Peter Antevy, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital: "We looked at the number of overdoses over the last year in the state of Florida: 3,000 overdoses of DXM. Half of those, 1,500, were from children abusing the drug, so we have a major problem on our hands."
Part of the problem: the drugs are easy to get. This video on YouTube shows teens stealing the medications right off store shelves.
Roger Maxfield: "They're eating them right in the store. They're going to the boxes, opening the boxes and consuming them in the store."
The Maxfields are pushing to get these drugs taken off store shelves and put behind the pharmacy counter. That's where you find pills like Sudafed that contain pseudoephedrine, which is used for making crystal meth.
Roger Maxfield: "All we're asking is this drug be taken off shelves where anyone can reach it, and put it behind the pharmacy or under lock and key. It's a shame that they'll lock up razor blades, but not this drug that is killing our kids."
Roger's been standing in front of drugstores getting hundreds of signatures to support him, and he's gotten the attention of State Representative Eddy Gonzalez, who plans to take action.
Eddy Gonzalez, (R) State Representative, District 102: "What we'd like to do is be able to put it behind the counter. We're either going to do it in a way of a bill or an amendment to an existing law."
The Maxfield family will keep fighting until something is done in hopes of keeping another child, like Andy, from taking a deadly dose.
Roger Maxfield: "Every day is a struggle. You just walk by his room and you start crying."
Lynn Martinez: "Just last week, an FDA advisory panel said cold and cough meds made with DXM should continue to be available over-the-counter. But Representative Gonzalez still hopes to have a state bill or an amendment to a current law filed in November to have these medications put behind the counter. Andy's family has a website, where they are getting signatures to bring before the legislature."
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