The abuse of codeine-fortified cough syrup is so widespread that Houston has become nationally known in the rap culture as “the City of Syrup,” says the Houston Chronicle. Prosecutors will focus on illegal distribution of the medication in the trial of six pharmacists, beginning today in federal court.The pharmacists are the first to be prosecuted here on accusations of illegally dispensing the highly addictive prescription cough syrup codeine with promethazine.
The syrup has been used at least once by about 30 percent of teenagers in the Houston area, says Prof. Ron Peters of the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. Houston Police Department spokesman Lt. Robert Manzo said the cough syrup is “extremely popular.” The widespread use of codeine with promethazine is widely believed to have begun in Houston, along with the popularity of a type of rap music developed by record producer D.J. Screw, who died in 2000 of an overdose of the drug he promoted.