FDA Panel Warns on Cold Medicines for Children Under 6

Posted on October 19, 2007

A FDA panel has warned that over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicines do not work in children and that they should not be used in children less than six years old. The medicines the FDA Panel is warning about includes decongestants, antihistamines and antitussives but not expectorants. Over a dozen cold products for infants were recently pulled off store shelves. The panel voted 13 to 9 to also ban cold medicines targeted at kids 2 to 5 years old. However, products for kids aged 2 to 5 years old have not been banned by the FDA.

CNN says that one member of the panel - the patient representative - was concerned that if there were no child drugs available then parents would use adult medications instead. CNN says Amy Celento-Stamateris, the patient representative on the panel, said that if there were no children's cold and cough products on the market, then some people will "administer (adult) products to their children because they work for them and I'd be very concerned."

An NBC News article says the news has really confused parents. There is no cure for a cold virus so many parents use the OTC drugs to soothe their child's symptoms. Parents with kids with allegy and asthma may be extra concerned when a child comes down with a cold.
The advice has left many parents wondering what to do when their kids are suffering from stuffy noses, sniffles or hacking coughs.

"You've got to take it seriously. I want to be cautious," says Alison Schwartz, a 36-year-old mom who lives in Sacramento, Calif. "But on the other hand, it's really hard with a child - especially a kid under 6 - to watch him up all night coughing, with a cold or the flu, and not be able to give him something to give him a little relief, just so he can get some sleep."
A New York Times article says mothers are split over the news. NBC News says these methods are best for infants with colds.

You can also find information from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) at otcsafety.org.