First Toys; Now Cold Medicine

Some Remedies Banned for Chidren Under 6

Parents of children under the age of 6 have one more topic to add to their lists of dos and don’ts. A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted last week to ban some over-the-counter cold medicines marketed to children under the age of 6.

The 13-9 vote came a week after major manufacturers agreed to withdraw more than a dozen cold products labeled for use of infants and toddlers. The committee found no proof that over-the-counter cold and cough medicines work for children under age 6, and that giving them to young children cannot be recommended.

Between 1969 and fall 2006, 54 child deaths from decongestants have been reported and 69 from antihistamines. The majority of the deaths involved children under 2 years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics supported the decision saying: “These medicines are ineffective and can have serious side effects. There are other ways to treat cold symptoms.”

The parents of children this age are split over the FDA’s decision. Lavon Surratt, a father of an 18-month-old son, did not support the decision. “Each time my son has been sick, I go to CVS and buy either Pediacare or Tylenol and soon after he’s getting better,” Surratt said. “With the weather changing, he has a cold now. I went to CVS, and there were only children medicines but nothing for his age. I left with only Vick’s baby rub. My son was coughing and sneezing the whole night. Warnings can be put on the labels, and parents should be able to decide to buy medications for their kids or not.”

Patience Green, a mother of a 3-year-old son, supported the decision. “I don’t really give my son medicines,” Green said. “But when I do, I believe that his improvement in health is quite possibly due to the placebo effect, which means that it only seems like the medicines are working.”

A possible drawback to the vote and removal of the medicines is that some parents may start buying adult medicines and attempting to give smaller doses in an effort to aid a child’s cold. “I think it’s too risky to give my son something that’s not for his age. But I can see a parent’s rationale with doing so. It’s tough when they are so little and there is no help for them.”

The FDA is reviewing last week’s recommendations and says that any formal action could take years. Although, the drug industry has voluntarily withdrawn some products designed for children under 2, it maintains that the remedies are both safe and effective for older children when used properly.