The Food and Drug Administration recently issued an advisory to warn parents that children under the age of two should not be given cold and cough medicines unless instructed by a doctor in order to prevent injuries. These medicines’ labels currently advise receiving instructions from a doctor for children under two before use but many doctors and parents ignore these warnings despite the fact that hundreds of adverse effects and even some deaths have been cause by the medications. It is unclear whether the liability falls on the drug manufacturers, doctors or parents. Critics of this practice have petitioned the FDA to ban marketing the drugs toward children under the age of six but some of the drugs’ labels show pictures of infants in diapers. Some critics have gone as far as suggesting that these medicines should no longer be sold over the counter. Drug manufacturers argue that the FDA approved the drugs as safe and effective but this is contested because when the drugs were initially tested the results were only monitored in adults. The studies were decades ago and safety standards have risen significantly. Harmful ingredients in cough medicines include dextomethorphan, which can cause neurological side effects like abnormal movements and hallucinations, and pseudoephedrine, which has been linked to infant deaths, high blood pressure and arrhythmias. Children have been injured by standard doses. Overdoses do occur, however, when parents give children two different medicines with the same ingredients. Sales of the drugs are booming and it is unlikely that restrictions more than requiring stronger wording on labels will be implemented as a result of the investigation.
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