Hacking, sniffling kids may have to tough it out

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Cough and cold medicines are perfectly safe for children, say the drugs’ manufacturers. But to be on the even-safer side, they’re going to recommend that kids younger than 4 not take them.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Assn. said in a statement today:


‘After consulting with FDA, the leading manufacturers of these medicines are voluntarily transitioning the labeling on oral OTC pediatric cough and cold medicines to state ‘do not use’ in children under four years of age; these modified labels will continue to provide dosing information for children four and older. In addition, for products containing certain antihistamines, manufacturers are voluntarily adding new language that warns parents not to use antihistamine products to sedate or make a child sleepy.’

(In other words, that last bit says, parents shouldn’t dose a kid just so they can have a peaceful night -- or avoid pariah status on transcontintental flights.)

The move comes on the heels of a public hearing last week at which pediatricians urged the Food and Drug Administration to immediately ban such medicines for young children. The agency declined to go that far just yet. Apparently there’s a fear that parents -- wanting to do something, anything -- would give their kids adult drugs instead.

Many cough and cold medicines for children under age 2 were pulled from store shelves last year amid wrestling, or pre-emptive wrestling, over the same issue.

Asked Karin Klein recently in the L.A. Times blog Opinion LA:

‘If a medicine can’t do more than a placebo, why continue to give the medicine, which can have side effects, aside from that OTC pediatric meds are a big money-maker?’


So what to give a coughing kid? Try honey.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Peter Adams / For The Times