Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Food & Drug Administration is asking manufacturers of over-the-counter anti-diarrhea treatments, like Imodium AD, to change the way they package their products.

The FDA says the voluntary measures are needed to curb the growing abuse of loperamide.

Addicts have been buying hundreds of pills, and then taking them to get high. Sometimes they take anywhere from 50 to 300 pills a day.

“Loperamide is another example of patients going to any length for their addiction and they’re using that because it’s cheap, it’s available and it can be effective,” says addiction treatment specialist Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.

“I think Imodium has some very subtle addiction, so people use it because they’re telling themselves they’re using it to take care of their diarrhea, but in actuality, they’re addicted to it for other reasons,” says Allegheny Health Network med-peds physician, Dr. Jennifer Preiss.

Imodium AD, in massive doses, works in the body the same way as heroin, morphine and oxycodone do, by binding to receptors in the brain, causing a similar euphoria.

But it could also have dangerous consequences.

“It’s very dangerous because in addition to opiate overdose, you can have your heart go into an arrhythmia and patients can die,” says Dr. Mangiacarne.

So, now, the FDA is asking manufacturers to limit the amount of loperamide per package for short-term use. For example, a retail package could contain only eight 2-milligram capsules, which is just enough for two days.

“I think it might be helpful, but I think two days might be a little short,” says Dr. Preiss.

The FDA also wants retailers to limit how much loperamide can be purchased online.

“Probably, you shouldn’t be able to buy tons and tons of it at a time. Probably will have to show ID if you’re going to use it, like some of the other over-the-counter drugs that have recently happened,” adds Dr. Preiss.

More From CBS Pittsburgh

Get The All New CBS Local App
KDKA Weather App
CBS All Access

Watch & Listen LIVE