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Six baby cough medicines taken off shelves

London, March 27, 2008

Six cough medicines for children under two years old were taken off pharmacy shelves in UK on Thursday over fears of possible accidental overdose.

The government's medicines regulator said it had ordered the action after increasing reports of adverse reactions by small children to drugs in the preparations, including five deaths since 1981.

Parents will be advised instead to use paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower temperatures in young children suffering a cold or cough and to give them a simple cough syrup containing glycerol, honey or lemon.

A spokeswoman for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the products were not dangerous and would return to open sale once manufacturers had altered packaging making clear they were not suitable for children under two.

"If it was a dangerous drug we would have it off the market in seconds," she said. "It's not dangerous, it's what people are doing with it."    

"We have seen an increase in adverse reactions over the last 20 years starting to build up a head of steam," she added.

The following six products directly targeted at children less than two years were ordered to be removed from shelves: Asda Children's Chesty Cough Syrup; Boots Chesty Cough Syrup 1 Year Plus; Boots Sore Throat and Cough Linctus 1 Year Plus; Buttercup Infant Cough Syrup; CalCough Chesty; and Bell's Children's Chesty Cough.

The medicines can still be sold under advice by pharmacists to parents for older children.

"Children under two are more vulnerable due to their small size and therefore may be particularly susceptible to the effects of overdose," the MHRA said.

"This new advice will reduce that possibility and is a precautionary measure."    

Medicines trade body the Proprietary Association of Great Britain stressed that the treatments had not been banned and were safe to use as directed.

"Companies are taking this action voluntarily because the wellbeing of babies and young children is paramount," said the association's executive director Sheila Kelly.

"Parents should not be concerned that they have harmed their children in any way if they have given them cold remedies in the past. They are safe when used as recommended and can still be used for children over two."  - Reuters




Tags: Medicine | baby | cough |

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