New research is rekindling concerns about the safety of some popular over-the-counter liquid medications for children.
Shonna Yin of the New York University School of Medicine and colleagues studied dosing directions and measuring devices provided for 200 top-selling pediatric liquid medications, including treatments for coughs and colds, allergies and stomach problems. The researchers say they found the instructions on boxes and bottles were often confusing and hard for parents to follow, putting children at risk.
While a standardized measuring device was provided for 148 of the products, nearly all of them had one or more inconsistencies between the label directions and the accompanying devices, the researchers report in a paper to be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In addition, nearly a quarter of the provided dosing devices such as cups or droppers lacked necessary markings. In some cases, the instructions used abbreviations that were not defined.
In 2007, leading makers of cough and cold medicines for children pulled products from the market amid rising concerns about their safety. That focused attention on the safety of many medications for children. In November 2009, the Food and Drug Administration released voluntary guidelines that companies should use for how to sell over-the-counter liquid medications for kids. The agency acted after getting reports of children being accidentally overdosed, in part because of inconsistent or confusing labels and measuring devices.
The new study began Nov. 6, 2009, and continued through February. Researchers hope to evaluate how well the industry responded to the guidelines.