Child cough remedies taken off shelves

By Beverley Rouse,Pa
Thursday 27 March 2008 08:35

Some cough and cold remedies for young children are being removed from shelves today due to fears of accidental overdose.

Six products specifically marketed for use on under-twos are being permanently removed from sale on the orders of the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The products affected are: Asda Children's Chesty Cough Syrup, Boots Chesty Cough Syrup One Year Plus, Boots Sore Throat and Cough Linctus One Year Plus, Buttercup Infant Cough Syrup, CalCough Chesty and Bell's Children's Chesty Cough.

Dozens more remedies will be taken off the shelves until they can be repackaged to include advice that they should not be given to children under two.

Until then, they will be kept behind pharmacy counters and anyone who asks to buy them will be questioned about the age of the child who is ill. If the child is older than two, the product can be sold and an advice leaflet will be provided.

MHRA spokeswoman Sara Coakley said letters were sent to health care professionals yesterday afternoon explaining the move.

"It's a precautionary measure. They are not dangerous," she said.

"If they had been dangerous, we'd have had them off the market in seconds. Nobody should panic.

"There's nothing wrong with these medicines it was the way that they had been given."

She said the remedies could be dangerous if people gave their child more than the recommended dose or gave them more than one product at the same time.

"Children under two are particularly susceptible because of their small size so can be at risk of overdose," she added.

"We are saying don't give it to under-twos."

Miss Coakley admitted there had been an increase in "adverse reactions" to the products but said it had been more widely seen in the United States where improved packaging has now been introduced.

She said products aimed at children aged two plus will be returned to shelves once they have been repackaged to include the new advice that they should not be given to young children. This is expected to happen by October.

Miss Coakley added: "This is a temporary measure."

"If you are giving them the right dose, don't worry. Make sure you follow the correct dosage."

The MHRA is the government agency which is responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe.

It monitors medicines and devices and, if there is a problem, takes any action necessary to protect the public.

A spokesman for Boots said: "Boots are making changes following new MHRA

guidance, following updated advice from the Paediatric Medicines Expert Advisory

Group and the Commission on Human Medicines, regarding current best practice for the supply of some medicines available for coughs and colds for children under the age of two.

"There are currently some medicines available that, under this new guidance, are now only recommended for use in children aged two years and above.

"In the interests of our customers, these will only be sold under the supervision of a pharmacist until the packaging is changed to reflect this.

"We recommend that when treating children under six years of age for cough and cold symptoms, customers should seek advice from a pharmacist or other healthcare professional.

"We have communicated the new MHRA guidelines to all of our pharmacists, who would be happy to help any customers with queries or concerns."

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