A number of cough and cold medicines for children were withdrawn from the market on Thursday, presumably in anticipation of an FDA advisory committee meeting scheduled next week to assess the drugs’ safety. According to this NY Times article, “Thursday’s withdrawal includes medicines aimed at children under age 2, after the Food and Drug Administration and other health groups reported deaths linked to the remedies in recent years, primarily from unintentional overdoses.”
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association announced Thursday that manufacturers were voluntarily ending sales of over-the-counter oral cough and cold products aimed at infants. The list includes infant drops sold under the leading brand names Dimetapp, Pediacare, Robitussin, Triaminic, Little Colds, and versions of Tylenol that contain cough and cold ingredients.
CVS Caremark Corp. added that it would also end sales of CVS-brand equivalents.
“Health groups say that while low doses of cold medicine don’t usually endanger an individual child, the bigger risk is unintentional overdose,” the article says. “For example, the same decongestants, cough suppressants and antihistamines are in multiple products, so using more than one to address different symptoms — or having multiple caregivers administer doses — can quickly add up. Also, children’s medicines are supposed to be measured with the dropper or measuring cap that comes with each product, not an inaccurate kitchen teaspoon.”
And, since ”the medicine isn’t doing what the family wants, instead of giving as directed every six hours they give every four hours or every two hours,” says Dr. Basil Zitelli of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, who sees such children in the emergency room. ”What they in effect are doing is poisoning their child.”
What to do instead:
–Plenty of fluids and rest.
–Suction bulbs to gently clear infants’ clogged noses. Saline nose drops loosen thick secretions so noses drain more easily.
–A cool-mist humidifier in the child’s bedroom.
–Acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as recommended by your doctor, to alleviate pain or discomfort — but check that they don’t contain extra ingredients.
–Some chest creams can ease stuffiness with menthol or other fragrances, but check labels for age restrictions.