The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has reached an agreement with the pharmaceutical industry to voluntarily withdraw six cough medicines for children under 2 and to change the labels on other products to remove the dosage instructions for children under 2. The MHRA has issued a press release and this story has reached the general media (BBC).
This action has been taken after a number of serious reports led to a safety review in the United States. There have been far fewer reports in the UK but because children under the age of two are more susceptible to the effects of overdose this action has been taken as a precautionary measure.
Coughs and colds are generally self limiting and symptom management should aim to control fever with ibuprofen or paracetamol and alleviate with simple cough mixtures, for example paediatric simple linctus or those containing glycerol or honey and lemon.
Action: Clinicians should be aware of this withdrawal and the changes to advised management of coughs and colds in children under 2. Parents may seek advice and reassurance in the coming days.