More innovation needed in OTC cough and cold meds

May 4, 2008

The firestorm of activity surrounding pediatric use of over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold continues with a new study calling for, among other things, increased focus on “packaging engineering.” At this year’s Pediatric Academic Societies’ meeting, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia, researchers Daniel S. Budnitz, Melissa K. Schaefer, Nadine Shehab, and Adam L. Cohen, echoed the findings of previous reports citing unsupervised ingestions of cough and cold meds as a main source of emergency department (ED) visits in the pediatric population.

The firestorm of activity surrounding pediatric use of over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold continues with a new study calling for, among other things, increased focus on “packaging engineering.” At this year’s Pediatric Academic Societies’ meeting, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia, researchers Daniel S. Budnitz, Melissa K. Schaefer, Nadine Shehab, and Adam L. Cohen, echoed the findings of previous reports citing unsupervised ingestions of cough and cold meds as a main source of emergency department (ED) visits in the pediatric population.

In their study entitled, “Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Events from Cough and Cold Medications in Children,” researchers found that unsupervised ingestions of cough and cold medications accounted for 66% of estimated ED visits, which was significantly greater than for other medications. Seventy-seven percent of those unsupervised ingestions occurred in children two- to five-years-old. The researchers used National Electronic Injury Surveillance System: Cooperative Adverse Drug Events Surveillance System (NEISS-CADES) data from 63 hospitals; five of which were pediatric specialty.

According to the researchers, efforts to stem the number of unsupervised ingestions should be centered on education, enforcement, and engineering. “As long as these products continue to be marketed for children, packaging improvements designed to reduce unsupervised ingestions may be particularly helpful in reducing morbidity from these medications,” notes Budnitz and co-authors. “Our statistics have been passed on to manufacturers, and we will see what they come back with,” said Budnitz.