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Reminder: OTC cough/cold medicines not for children under 6

October 20, 2009

A reminder as we head into cold and flu season:

On Dec. 18, 2008, Health Canada released its decision that orally administered over-the-counter cough and cold products with certain active ingredients should not be used in children under 6 years of age.

Which products are affected?

The decision affects cough and cold products that can be purchased without a prescription and are labelled for use in children less than 6 years of age. The affected products fall into four broad categories and contain one or more of these active ingredients:

  1. antihistamines (1st generation, e.g., diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, doxylamine);
  2. antitussives (dextromethorphan);
  3. expectorants (guaifenesin); and,
  4. decongestants (ephedrine, phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine).

The advisory does not apply to common pain and fever reducers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen or combination products that do not contain an ingredient listed above.

What do you tell your patients?

  1. First, be accessible to provide parents with advice on the products and alternative interventions. Consider keeping the poster and tear sheets being provided by Health Canada in easy to access locations. Any alternative resources and information you can offer will be appreciated. 
  2. Read Health Canada’s Frequently Asked Questions. It has advice for parents and answers to parent questions.  

Originally published in the October 20, 2009, issue of The Link