HEALTH

Update: FDA issues warning on OTC cough-cold for children under two

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued a Public Health Advisory for parents and caregivers, recommending that over-the-counter cough- cold products should not be used to treat infants and children less than 2 years of age on account of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

The announcement does not include the FDA’s final recommendation about use of OTC cough and cold medicines in children ages 2 to 11 years. “Many of these drugs were monographed, as mentioned in the advisory committees, we’ll have to go through a working group process,” Charles Ganley, director of FDA’s Office of Nonprescription Products, told reporters during a conference call Thursday morning.

“This announcement will bring this issue back into the public consciousness,” Granley acknowledged, especially as the announcement comes as illness rates in upper respiratory illnesses starts to ramp up this season. And while CHPA and its vendor members recalled products marketed to children under two last fall, this could have an adverse impact on the sales of kids cough and cold medicines.

 “The FDA strongly recommends to parents and caregivers that OTC cough and cold medicines not be used for children younger than 2,” Ganley stated. “These medicines, which treat symptoms and not the underlying condition, have not been shown to be safe or effective in children under 2.”

Medicines marketed to this age group carried the warning “consult your physician” for children under age two up until the fall of last year, when industry voluntarily pulled all product marketed for use in toddlers off the market. Though the “FDA has never endorsed use of these products” in children under two, Ganley noted, rather leaving that discretion on whether or not to use those medicines in infants to pediatricians and family practitioners. 

The move was heralded by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. “Safety has always been and continues to be our top priority,” stated Linda Suydam, CHPA president. “Last fall, the leading makers of OTC, oral cough and cold medicines for infants voluntarily withdrew these medicines out of concern that their potential misuse could lead to possible overdose among very young children. While CHPA and its member companies believe that the large majority of parents and caregivers know how to safely and appropriately administer these medicines, and that they are safe when taken as directed, we took this voluntary action recognizing that infants are especially vulnerable to accidental misuse.”

Today’s statement is based on the FDA’s review of data and discussion at a joint meeting of the Nonprescription Drugs and Pediatric Advisory Committees on Oct. 18 and 19, 2007, the FDA stated.

Pending completion of the FDA’s ongoing review, FDA recommended that parents and caregivers who choose to use OTC cough and cold medicines for children ages 2 to 11 years should: 

  • Follow the dosing directions on the label of any OTC medication;
  • Understand that these drugs will NOT cure or shorten the duration of the common cold; 
  • Check the “Drug Facts” label to learn what active ingredients are in the products because many OTC cough and cold products contain multiple active ingredients; 
  • Only use measuring spoons or cups that come with the medicine or those made specially for measuring drugs. 

A decision on whether or not cough-cold medicines are appropriate for children older than two is expected in the spring.

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NPA recommends women avoid undernutrition with daily vitamin

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Natural Products Association on Wednesday responded to recommendations that women supplement with a daily vitamin to help combat undernutrition, as published this week in the The Lancet in its Series on Maternal and Child Undernutrition.

“For all the problems for which there are still no solutions—undernnutrition is not one of them. From that perspective, this report is deeply disturbing,” stated Daniel Fabricant, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “On the other hand, it is also very promising because the solutions are at hand—getting people the know-how and the nutrition they need when they need it,” he said.

Supplementing inadequate diets with nutrients like folic acid and vitamin A, which are named in the report, is both an easy and inexpensive solution in helping to prevent birth defects, he added.

“Reports like this, that identify simple and easy ways to save millions of lives—and improve the quality of life for millions more—through an act as simple as taking a vitamin daily, are welcome,” he concluded.

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Report predicts near 40 percent growth in sales of pet supplements

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Sales of dietary supplements for people’s furry friends is expected to jump some 39 percent by 2012 to a market size of $1.7 billion, according to a new report from Packaged Facts released Wednesday.

Pet supplements represent the bulk of sales, 74 percent through 2007, but nutraceutical treats are expected to increase their presence in the market, Packaged Facts reported. Forces driving that market growth include pet owners’ growing interest in pet products, an aging and overweight pet population, a steady influx of new products and increased usage of clinically proven supplements by the veterinary community.

 “Nearly all pet owners value their pets for love and companionship and consider them family members,” noted Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts. “Marketers have been successful in tapping into consumers’ willingness to pamper their pets by providing them with the highest-quality, healthiest products available at almost any cost.”

Current market trends have been sustained through the sales of small animal supplements and nutraceutical treats in pet specialty shops, which account for more than 43 percent of sales, according to Packaged Facts estimates. The remaining 57 percent of sales are through veterinarian offices, health and natural stores and mass-market outlets, including online retailing.

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