ER Visits Fell After Children's Cold Meds Were Removed From Stores

Medication Errors & Children

Government research has found that removing popular children's cough and cold medicines from store shelves leds to a big decline in emergency room visits for bad reactions to the drugs.

The study appears in the journal Pediatrics.

During the study makers of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines voluntarily withdrew the products, mostly syrups, in October 2007. Pediatricians had complained that the products don't work in young kids and posed a safety risk because of accidental overdoses causing extreme drowsiness, increased heart rate and even some deaths.

CDC researchers compared nonfatal ER visits in children younger than 2 with bad reactions to cough and cold medicines in the 14 months before the withdrawal and in the 14 months afterward. Sixty three hospitals nation wide shared their data as part of the study.

The researchers found through extrapolation that  the number of visits nationwide linked with cough and cold medicine dropped by more than half from 2,790 visits to 1,248.

The Food and Drug Administration in 2008 warned against using the medicines in children younger than 2; labels now advise against using them in children younger than 4. 

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