If listening to the evening news and your pediatrician are not enough for you to stop giving your kids over the counter cold and cough medications, how about avoiding an ER visit? Will that do it?
MSNBC reported yesterday that the CDC announced that 7000 kids a year were seen in ERs due to overdoses from over the counter cold and cough medications. The article reported that 2/3 of the cases were from kids getting into the medication unsupervised but the remaining 1/3 were in kids given the medication as directed. The authors of the study, just published online in the journal Pediatrics, concludes better box labeling is clearly needed since parents are determined to give these products despite the warnings.
What alarmed me in the article was this paragraph:
“(The authors) cited a national survey that showed 64 percent of parents consider cough and cold medications to be safe and 20 percent plan to continue to give them to their children under 2 years, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month “strongly recommended” against it.”
This certainly fits with my recent clinical experience, however, I had no idea the amount of parents believe in these medications was so high. Beyond better labels, more needs to be done with dosing if we are not going to either remove these products or place them behind the pharmacy counter. While the “infant and toddler” products have been pulled, parents are still seeing the same medications on the shelves for their older kids and themselves. I can see where that would not only be confusing, but tempting to use.
I’m not sure I feel better knowing that my observations yesterday were accurate but it gives me something more concrete to work with. Parents are sending a clear message that they want a medications to treat their kids. Is that the path to take? Should we be pushing the pharmaceutical industry in that direction? I’m not convinced that is the road to go down but I am convinced we have to find more ways to “treat” kids with colds that help parents feel more comfortable. At the moment, saline and soup just don’t seem to be cutting it. That, I’m hearing loud and clear.