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Cough and Cold Medications
syrupOver-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medications are marketed widely for relief of common cold symptoms, and yet studies have failed to demonstrate a benefit of these medications for young children. In addition, OTC medications can be associated with significant morbidity and even mortality in both acute overdoses and when administered in correct doses for chronic periods of time.

Comment:

Here we have a class of drugs that is heavily marketed and has a "the lack of demonstrated benefit" and "known risks in the pediatric population". The authors describe the two significant adverse reactions and one death from the toxicity from these over the counter medications for children and describe this problem as the "tip of the iceberg". In 1997, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement to that effect and prompting physicians to clearly "educate parents about the known risks and lack of benefits of these medications." However, this has had little impact, as most people remain unaware of this information. As we all have seen these products continue to be highly marketed, large profits generated, and with the general public none the wiser with sometimes harmful or fatal consequences. These products should be banned because A. They don't work and B. They can be potentially harmful if not deadly.


Toxicity of Over-the-Counter Cough and Cold Medications PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 September 2001 00:00
“Over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medications are marketed widely for relief of common cold symptoms, and yet studies have failed to demonstrate a benefit of these medications for young children. In addition, OTC medications can be associated with significant morbidity and even mortality in both acute overdoses and when administered in correct doses for chronic periods of time. Physicians often do not inquire about OTC medication use, and parents (or other caregivers) often do not perceive OTCs as medications. We present 3 cases of adverse outcomes over a 13-month period including 1 death as a result of OTC cough and cold medication use. We explore the toxicities of OTC cough and cold medications, discuss mechanisms of dosing errors, and suggest why physicians should be more vigilant in specifically inquiring about OTCs when evaluating an ill child.”

“Colds, coughs, and upper respiratory infections are common childhood illnesses. The average child suffers from 6 to 10 colds per year, and each cold can last from 10 to 14 days, providing several days and nights of discomfort for the child as well as for his/her caregiver. Many times parents will turn to one of many hundreds of cough and cold preparations for relief. However, over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold preparations although generally safe have no demonstrated benefit. No studies have proven the efficacy of cough and cold preparations in facilitating recovery from these illnesses, and most children will eventually improve on their own. However, a small number of children may suffer significant adverse effects from the administration of the very cough and cold formulations they were given in an attempt to relieve their symptoms. For example, the Food and Drug Administration recently issued an advisory to remove phenylpropanolamine (PPA) a common constituent of OTC decongestants from those products because of concern for increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke.”
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