Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cough and Cold Medicine

If you have kids, you need to read this one. Please share the information with other parents you know.

From ABC:

Just as cough and cold season is beginning, there is a new warning tonight for parents from the makers of popular over-the-counter remedies. Ten percent of children take the medicines in any given week, but tonight, the industry is telling parents NOT to give them to children under 4.

Both the industry-- and its critics, agree, today's move is a big step forward. But those who worry about the safety of cough and cold medicines for children, say why stop at age 4. Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the Baltimore City Health Commissioner said,"We still think there's no evidence that these products work and they are potentially unsafe for kids under age 6.

In some cases,the medicines have affected a child's breathing and heart rhythms and caused seizures. Last year, they were banned for children under age 2 .The industry says today's move is based on new information. Linda Suydam with the Consumer Health Care Products Association said, "We've looked at the data and 2 and 3 year old have have the majority of adverse events, even though the number is very rare.

Parents are likely to remain confused by all this because old out-of-date labels will linger on the shelves. Even today, we found packages without the warning against using this on children under age 2, which was agreed to a year ago.

Moms and dads have relied on the medicines for decades. But they've never been tested on children, and pediatricians are increasingly telling parents to steer clear. Dr. Dale Coddington from Children's National Medical Center said,"Some believe the industry's latest move in an attempt to head off tougher restrictions -something under consideration by the government.

I am bummed about this. I try not to give my kids medicine unless they really need it, but no cold medicine EVER is going to be tough. Humidifier, pain relievers and salt water nasal spray will have to do.

Will you stop giving your kids under four cough and cold medicine after reading this?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

Methodist Medical Center's new online healthcare program, MyMethodist eHealth, is a proud sponsor of this blog post. MyMethodist eHealth is the secure link to your doctor's office that lets you request appointments, order prescription refills, update your personal health record, and more. Sign up for MyMethodist eHealth here.

2 comments:

Jeff said...

As a dad and a doctor, I find children’s cough and cold medications a very scary topic. I used believe the drug companies, and think that as long as my patient’s or I dosed the children’s cold & cough medications right, then everything would be OK. But when I researched this further, it turns out that children have died from “over dose” of ALL THE MAJOR CHILDRENS COLD AND COUGH MEDICINES even when given the correct dose. (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/108/3/e52?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=cough+medications&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&resourcetype=HWCIT).

Here are a few interesting facts:

1. Last October 2007, the drug companies promised the FDA that they would change all their labeling to say “do not use” for children under the age of 2, but I was just in the store last week, and most of packages still had the old labeling! They do not warn of the dangers in children under 2. So why should we believe that the drug companes will maintain their “voluntary” new labeling for children under 4? They make these voluntary changes to avoid federal regulation, and then promptly change their labeling once the hype has died down.

2. The FDA reviewed safety and effectiveness data this last fall and its expert panel said that “right now the current cold & cough medications should not be given to children under 6.” Here is a link to the FDA’s minutes, “http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/07/minutes/2007-4323m1-Final.pdf”, see page 6. The FDA made a public advisory in January 2008 about never using it for children under 2, because the Drug companies are fighting them on the panels ruling to never use cold and cough medications on children 2 to 6. Since these drugs were previously allowed by the FDA, the FDA is forced to go though “due process” before they are willing to make an official public statement about never giving these medications to children 2 to 6.

3. The number of infant deaths attributed to cold and cough medicines is dramatically underreported. New research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics demonstrated that there were at least “10 unexpected infant deaths that were associated with cold-medication” in 2006 alone in the state of Arizona. Extrapolated over the US and Canadian population, that would be over 500 deaths a year associated with cold-medication! (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/122/2/e318)

4. The thing that the drug companies don’t want anyone to know is that these medications never underwent the rigorous safety and effectiveness studies modern medications have to go though, they we grandfathered in the early 1970’s because at that time experts felt like they seemed to work, and they seemed safe enough.

5. The FDA recently said that they do not want to pull the medications for children under 6 because they are afraid that parents will give children adult doses because “parents would have no other alternatives.” The truth is that the American Academy of Pediatrics has said that buckwheat honey is a safe alternative. Some researchers from Penn State have shown that Buckwheat honey is better then the OTC drugs for children’s cough. There is a web site that talks about this, and gives lots of research to help parents be better informed about how to help their kids. Check out http://www.honeydontcough.com/

-Daddydoctor

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