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In The News: Cough and Cold Medicine for Children Under Age 6

The New York Times recently published an article about a 356-page recommendation written by safety experts to the Food and Drug Administration to ban “over-the-counter, multisymptom cough and cold medicines for children under 6.” The article never specifies who the safety experts are, except that they are internal to the F.D.A. The next step in the review process is to get an outside expert recommendation.

The article speaks about the marketing strategies of drug companies. Apparently, there is a huge market to target children, because they get sick far more often than adults. It makes sense why they would offer more products for children.

The concern is that some of these medicines may be ineffective or even harmful. The article suggests that the research that has been done is outdated.

One specific narcotic to treat pain and suppress cough, Hydrocone, is said to be unsafe and ineffective. The drug has a shaky approval history with the F.D.A. The F.D.A. is currently allowing Hydrocone to be marketed for children.

I find this interesting, because I just went to the doctor yesterday for medicine to treat my cough and viral infection. I am breastfeeding, so that limited what my ENT could give me. He gave me medicine that they give children and babies. Then he informed me about the symptoms of pneumonia and to call if I got any of those. That didn’t sound encouraging.

I don’t believe that we should fear all cough and cold medicines. I would be absolutely sure that I consulted with my pediatrician or at least called the nurse before giving my child a “multi-system cough and cold” medicine. What would I do if my child was in significant pain with a cough and cold on a Saturday night and I couldn’t get a hold of my pediatrician’s office until Monday morning? It depends on the situation. I would definitely research more natural remedies until I could see the doctor or stick with the medicine I am sure is safe.

What steps would you take in this situation? What do you think about the article? Should all “multi-system cough and cold” medicines be banned by the F.D.A.?

Read the full article here.

2 Responses to In The News: Cough and Cold Medicine for Children Under Age 6

  • Comment by McKenna
    October 4, 2007 @ 10:29 am

    Most hospitals have a “Call-a-nurse” number that is open 24 hours a day/7 days a week. In San Antonio, you can call (210) 226-8773 and you can speak to a nurse and get advice on how to treat your child. I have called them many times and have gotten great advice. But, I also don’t have a problem leaving a message after hours with my pediatrician’s answering service. I think a lot of parents are scared of “bothering” their doctor after hours, however that’s what they’re there for. So, for me, it’s first Call-a-nurse and if they recommend I call the pediatrician, that’s exactly what I do! :)

    I like this article because it reminds us that just because the FDA approves something, doesn’t mean we don’t need to research a bit and use our judgment. It’s all about the risk vs benefit. Are the side effects of the cough medicine worse than the potential side effects of a horrible cough? Maybe cough medicine shouldn’t be over-the-counter and should be by rX only. I’m anxious to hear other responses on this!

  • Gravatar October 8, 2008 @ 6:05 am

    [...] Controversy over Cough and Cold Meds for Children – We have already covered previous FDA findings here and here. Now the New York Times is reporting, “manufacturers of pediatric cough and cold [...]

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