In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, Dr. Darshak Sanghavi, a pediatric cardiologist at UMass Medical School argues that an all-out FDA ban of cough and cold medicines for kids is an unnecessary overreaction that would increase the suffering of kids and "desperate parents" and which could have unintended consequences that are worse than the overdose confusion the ban is proposing to solve:
Second, the notion that cold medicines are useless in children may be wrong. Data from evidence-based collectives such as the Cochrane Collaboration suggest that anticough and expectorant drugs don't help people. (While that's probably true, it's important to note the studies are biased toward showing no effect, since none actually counted how much the kids coughed. They only recorded parents' subjective impressions.) However, in reviewing the medical literature, there is only one randomized trial of a decongestant-antihistamine combination looking at short-term sleep and runny nose relief in a high-quality pediatrics journal since 1990 in the United States, and it involved only about 30 kids in Seattle getting active drug. In that study, kids under 6 treated with drug tended to have less runny noses, and were significantly more likely to fall asleep after two hours. Thus, dismissing decongestants and antihistamines along with anticough drugs is premature, especially since they likely help older children and adults.Wow, so just relying on the research can produce diametrically opposite conclusions, too?
Sanghavi suggests addressing the misdosing and multiple dosing problems head-on with clearer labeling, clearer dosage info and devices, and maybe eliminating multi-symptom medicines.