Vietnamese students overdose on cough medicine

TN News

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A group of 14-year-old students were hospitalized in Ho Chi Minh City after they overdosed on cough medicine in an attempt to get high and have fun on Wednesday.

Four students who downed three Recotus pills each were hospitalized and discharged later that same day, while over a dozen who also ingested pills received treatment for slight overdose symptoms at their school, said Tran Van Khanh, director of the District 2 Hospital.

According to Khanh, the eighth-graders at Binh An Secondary School, District 2, showed signs of dizziness, nausea, and hand tremors.

A report by Saigon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) newspaper quoted student Nguyen Ha Minh Thu as saying that she bought 30 pills of Recotus at two local drug stores for VND24,000 (US$1.14) to get rid of a pesky cough.

Thu had one pill and then some other students asked her for the medicine, also to treat their coughs, the newspaper reported, adding that each of them took between one and three pills.

After that some of the students started feeling high, so more students came to Thu for the medicine. About half hour later, some fell sick and very soon others felt the same way, according to Saigon Giai Phong.

It said police confiscated two pills left at the site for tests.

Dr. Nguyen Duy Tai, vice director of District 2 Hospital, told the newspaper that Recotus can help relieve coughing caused by flu, pneumonia, tuberculosis, smoking or accidental inhalation of stimulants. However, overdoses could lead to poisoning and death, he said.

Children between six and 12 years old should only use one pill per day, while the recommended daily dose for adults was not more than four and not more than one every six-eight hours, the news report said.

The newspaper said Recotus was supposed to be used and sold in accordance with a doctors' prescription, but in Vietnam, the medicine produced by the HCMC-based SPM Joint-stock company could be bought easily at local drug stores without prescriptions.

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Several media reports said late last year that many HCMC students used Recotus as a recreational drug, believing that it could help keep them awake, feel happy and boost their confidence. Some students said they used the medicine to pretend to be sick in order to skip classes, as it could also make them tired.

Last month a 27-year-old man went berserk with a knife and killed a person, and injured 20 others, in the central province of Binh Thuan after allegedly ingesting 14 Recotus pills.

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