ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today, a special panel of federal health advisors recommended that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be used in children under 6 years old, because of doubts about their effectiveness rising concerns about their safety. Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, released the following statement in support of the recommendation:

“The lives of children have been put at risk due to the inaccurate labeling, marketing, and distribution of cold and cough products to young children and parents. Today’s recommendations for the Food and Drug Administration are critically important in addressing the rampant and harmful misuse. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, cough medicines has caused harm to young children and abuse by teenagers across the country.

This recommendation is exactly what is needed to alert parents and policymakers about the erroneous labeling, marketing, and use of these products. Moreover, these medicines are ineffective and dangerous to young children.

Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must take action to implement these recommendations by banning the marketing and stopping the distribution of over-the-counter, multi-symptom cough and cold medicines for children under 6 featuring names such as “toddler” or “infant” in the product title, as well as practices such as the inclusion of droppers and pictures of babies on their labels.

Drug makers and policymakers should also recognize that labels must be strengthened to highlight the dangers of misuse by teenagers. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America has found that over the counter medications are being abused by 1 in 11, or 2.4 million teenagers nationwide.”

First Focus has been outspoken on this issue nationally and on Capitol Hill. Earlier this month, the organization urged the Consumer Healthcare Products Association to ban the marketing and stop the distribution of these medicines, to minimize misuse and confusion with young children.