It has been three years since the withdrawal of over-the-counter (OTC), non-prescription, infant cold medicines from store shelves. In October, 2007, OTC cough and cold medicines for children under the age of 2 were voluntarily withdrawn from the market due to concerns regarding its lack of effectiveness, as well as the potential harm that these medicines may cause. A year after, the withdrawal extended to OTC medicines for 4-year olds.
According to a report on Bloomberg BusinessWeek, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that the number of ER visits involving kids under the age of 2, due to overdoses or adverse reactions brought about by the drugs, have declined since the withdrawal.
The study was led by Dr. Daniel S. Budnitz, of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the CDC. Budnitz and his team tracked visits by children under the age of 12 to various ERs around the country, who were treated for “adverse events” due to OTC cold medications, 14 months before and after the withdrawal.
The results showed that while the total number of visits remained the same, visits by children under 2 decreased by more than 50 percent. Budnitz commented, though: “I think it’s good that these products were withdrawn, but it’s not going to take care of the entire problem.”
Despite the decrease in number of visits, 75 percent of the cases were due to children who took the medications unsupervised. It is also not known if these visits were due to medication for older children or adults.
Budnitz said: “The lesson for parents is, don’t give cough and cold medicines to your infants… also, keep all medicines up and out of the way of children.”