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Stores Restrict Tylenol Used In Heroin Mix

Some area stores have stopped selling Tylenol PM or restricted access to the sleep aid that has been used by some Dallas youths to create the dangerous heroin mix known as "cheese."

Managers at a Fiesta supermarket stopped selling it when they noticed the over-the-counter drug was disappearing off the shelves due to shoplifting.

Cheese, usually black heroin mixed with Tylenol PM tablets ground into a powder, has claimed the lives of at least 23 area teens since January 2005. Heroin can cause heart or respiratory failure.

"We didn't want to be part of the problem or anybody dying," said manager Dennis Daily, who added that the store has also stopped selling some similar over-the-counter medications that also contain diphenhydramine, an antihistamine.

While the store continues to sell other sleep aids, Daily said they would monitor sales and shoplifting of those medications.

Police records show almost daily arrests for the drug in the area, said Steve Fuentes, a Dallas officer.

Arrests for possession of the drugs, in Dallas schools have jumped 82 percent this year, with dealers as young as 11. It sells for $2 a hit and is usually snorted, CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reported in May.

Five years ago, the state health department paid for 19 North Texas teens to be treated for heroin addiction. Only six months into this fiscal year, that number had grown to 135 teenagers, a 600 percent increase, at more than 10 times the cost.

Dallas police records show that shoplifting has fallen at the Fiesta by more than one-third since medicines containing diphenhydramine were pulled.

Although the neighborhood surrounding that store is believed to be at the center of the cheese problem, a Fiesta supermarket in East Oak Cliff also stopped selling Tylenol PM. Two others in East Dallas and Pleasant Grove have placed it behind the counter.

Some other supermarkets and drugstores have restricted access to medicines that include diphenhydramine.