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Cough and cold remedies can kill children

Posted by feww on March 2, 2009

Don’t harm your kids with over-the-counter medicines

Parents are warned not to give a large list of cough and cold medicine to their children because they may be unsafe and ineffective, UK’s Daily Telegraph reported.

“More than 60 popular over-the-counter medicines, some specifically labelled for children, will be marked with warnings that they must not be given to children under six and are not recommended for under-12s.”

Wise Kids Say “NO!” to dangerous cough and cold remedies! Image may be subject to copyright.

Some 15 ingredients widely used by pharmaceutical companies  in majority of cough and cold remedies for many years are thought to be linked to the deaths of at least five children under 2. At least “100 serious cases of suspected adverse reactions” were reported, with children being hospitalized for a host of  side effects including allergic reactions, hallucinations and other medical complications.

At least five products for children under 2 have already been withdrawn.

The dangerous ingredients are: “the nasal decongestants pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine, oxymetazoline and xylometazoline; the antihistamines diphenhydramine, chlorphenamine, bromopheniramine, promethazine, triprolidine and doxylamine; the cough suppressants dextromethorphan and pholcodine, and the expectorants guaifenesin and ipecacuanha.” The Telegraph said. [See also below list of products.]

“By March next year, all over-the-counter cough and cold remedies containing the 15 ingredients will have warning labels on their packaging. Until then, notices will be placed on shelves advising that they should not be given to children under six and should only be given to those aged six to 12 after consulting a pharmacist. Chemists will be told to caution against their use for children under 12, unless there are special reasons. Some products should never be given to under-12s.

“Reports submitted to regulators show that, when cases involving people of all ages are considered, dozens have died after taking medication containing the ingredients and more than 3,000 people have reported “adverse reactions”. Diphenhydramine, which is used in Benylin Children’s Coughs and Colds, was mentioned in reports of 27 deaths, while chlorphenamine, an ingredient in Tixylix Cough and Cold, was mentioned in reports of 11 deaths.” The Telegraph reported.

Martin Shalley, a consultant in emergency medicine at UK’s Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, said of the remedies: “The names are confusing and often sound very innocuous; the dangers are only in the small print, and on top of the risks, there is no evidence that any of these products do any good.”

Dr Hermione Lyall, a consultant pediatrician at St Mary’s Hospital in London, said: “These drugs carry a number of risks; they can affect the heart, speeding it up or down, and they can even affect the central nervous system, leading to convulsions.

“Coughs and colds will run their course and if you are going to use any medication it is much better to rely on paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce a child’s temperature.”

Dr June Raine, from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK, said that a review of 69 cough and cold remedies for children had “found no robust evidence that these medicines work,” and although many of the products have been used for years, no previous tests into their safety and effectiveness had been carried out on children.

Simple cough syrups containing glycerol, honey and lemon as well as vapor rubs for a stuffy nose are thought to be safe and more effective.

The full list of medicines that must NOT be given to kids under 6 and are NOT recommended for children  youger than 12. [Liat provided by the Daily Telegraph]

  • Afrazine Nasal
  • Allens Pine and Honey Balsam
  • Beechams Decongestant Plus with Paracetamol
  • Beechams Flu Plu
  • Beechams Powders
  • Benilyn Chesty Coughs (Non Drowsy)
  • Benilyn Chesty Coughs (Original)
  • Benilyn Dry Coughs (Non Drowsy)
  • Benilyn Dry Coughs (Original)
  • Benylin 4 Flu
  • Benylin Cold & Flu Max strength
  • Benylin Cough and Congestion
  • Benylin Dual Action Night Cough & Congestion
  • Care Pholcodine linctus
  • Covonia Original Bronchial Balsam
  • Day Nurse
  • Fenox Nasal
  • Lemsip Max Cold & Flu
  • Lemsip Max Day & Night Cold & Flu relief
  • Lemsip Max Daytime Cold & Flu relief
  • Lemsip Max Sinus Capsules
  • Non- Drowsy Sinutab
  • Non-Drowsy Sudafed Congestion & Headache Capsules
  • Non-Drowsy Sudafed Congestion Cold and Flu
  • Non-Drowsy Sudafed Dual Relief
  • Otrivine Antistin Eye Drops
  • Otrivine Mucron
  • Robitussin Dry Cough Medicine
  • Tixylix Dry Cough
  • Vicks Cold & Flu Care Daymed Capsules
  • Vicks Cold & Flu care Medinite Complete Syrup
  • Vicks Sinex Decongestant Nasal
  • Vicks Sinex Micromist
  • Vicks Sinex Soother
  • Beechams Veno’s Expectorant
  • Beechams Veno’s Honey & Lemon
  • Benilyn Childrens Chesty Coughs/
  • Calcough Chesty
  • Benilyn Childrens Coughs and Colds
  • Benilyn Childrens Night Coughs
  • Benylin Children’s Dry Cough
  • Calcold
  • Calpol Night
  • Care Glycerin lemon & honey with Ipecac
  • Cofsed Linctus
  • Family Meltus Chesty Coughs Honey and Lemon Flavour
  • Galenphol Linctus
  • Galenphol Paediatric Linctus
  • Galpseud linctus
  • Galsud
  • Junior Meltus Chesty Coughs with Catarrh
  • Junior Meltus Dry Coughs with Congestion
  • Lemsip Cough and Cold Chesty Cough Medicine
  • Lemsip Cough Chesty
  • Medised for Children
  • Multi-Action Actifed
  • Multi-Action Actifed Chesty Coughs
  • Mutli-Action Actifed Dry Coughs
  • Non- Drowsy Sudafed Childrens
  • Non Drowsy Sudafed Expectorant
  • Non Drowsy Sudafed Linctus
  • Otrivine Childrens Nasal Drops
  • Robitussin Chesty Cough Medicine
  • Robitussin Chesty Cough with Congestion
  • Tixilix Cough and Cold
  • Tixylix Chesty Cough
  • Tixylix Night Cough
  • Vicks Cough Syrup for Chesty Coughs
  • Vicks Cough Syrup for Dry Coughs

Parents in other countries are advised to avoid the local equivalents of above remedies.

Related Links:

8 Responses to “Cough and cold remedies can kill children”

  1. JMW said

    I know of a child who was given one proper dose according to the manufacturer of a common OTC children’s antihistamine that was specifically chosen because it didn’t have alcohol in the mix. The child was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia and under went a bone marrow transplant to save the child’s life. The child was eight years of age at that time. The patient recovered and acquired hypertension. The patient was dead before the age of thirty. All the professionals I talked to about this case agreed that chlorpheniramine ultimately brought about the patient’s demise.

    The drug companies pushing OTC drugs such as chlorpheniramine are protected by laws and great legal staffs and vast amounts of money. It is impossible to penetrate that armor.

    Chlorpheniramine is a killer compound to select patients. Any amount to some patients is lethal and the effects irreversible. Some have said that the loss of a small number of patients is acceptable. Ask the parents of a victim.

  2. GEW said

    [Thanks, but no thanks! Moderator]

  3. Ron said

    Thanks a lot.

  4. Beaver said

  5. mby said

    thanks for useful information

  6. While children have died after taking medication containing cough and cold meds, there has never been a case where they have died after taking the correct dose. A peer-reviewed study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine looked at multiple databases, more complete than the feds, and found this to be true. Here is an interview with the lead author, Dr. Richard C. Dart, of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center:

    • feww said

      Other than trying to prevent “the risk that someone would toss the [kids] out of the window in total-viral-syndrome-exasperation,” do you any additional interest in this issue?

      Would you care to hazard a guess as to why “the British Commission on Human Medicines advised against the use of over the counter cough and cold medicine in children under age 6?”

  7. msrb said

    Bonjela gels warning issued for teens

    LONDON (Reuters) – Children under 16 should not be given mouth pain relief gels Bonjela and Bonjela Cool that contain an aspirin-type chemical, a health regulator said on Thursday.

    The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued the warning over treatments containing salicylate salts, which have the same effect on the body as aspirin.

    Aspirin is already not recommended for those under 16.

    The MHRA said there was a theoretical risk that products with the salts could lead to children developing Reye’s Syndrome, a rare condition that causes serious liver and brain damage.

    There have been no confirmed cases of Bonjela or Bonjela Cool Mint Gel causing Reye’s, it said.

    However, the regulator has received reports of three children hospitalised with suspected serious adverse drug reaction after using oral gels such as Bonjela.

    In all cases Reye’s Syndrome was suspected but not confirmed.

    There have also been four reports of vomiting or diarrhoea in children following the Bonjela use. In three of the cases the gel had been given for teething pain, and in all cases the children recovered completely.

    Manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser said Bonjela and Bonjela Cool would now be clearly labelled as adult brands.

    It said the warning did not apply to its Bonjela Teething Gel, which does not contain salicylate salts and remains safe for children from just two months old.


    CHILDREN under 16 should not be given Bonjela or Bonjela Cool mint gel, a health watchdog said yesterday.

    There are concerns that they could develop Reye’s syndrome, a rare but serious condition, although no cases have been reported in connection with Bonjela.

    The gels used to relieve the pain of mouth ulcers and sores contain salicylate salts, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said.

    These have the same effect as aspirin, which is not recommended for under-16s.

    It is thought an earlier viral infection, such as flu or chickenpox, and exposure to aspirin could cause Reye’s, which leads to serious liver and brain damage.

    The MHRA said the alert was a “precautionary” measure due to a “theoretical risk” after three children suffered suspected adverse reactions. It said Bonjela Teething Gel was unaffected.

    Makers Reckitt Benckiser said Bonjela and Bonjela Cool would now be labelled Adults and Children over 16.

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