FDA Says No to Prescription Opioid Cough Meds for Children
By David Doolittle

opioid story photoIt’s cold and flu season, so a lot of your pediatric patients probably have a pretty nasty cough.

But is prescribing a codeine- or hydrocodone-based medication the best thing to do?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) no longer thinks so.

FDA officials announced recently that prescription cough and cold medications that contain codeine or hydrocodone should not be given to patients younger than 18 years because the medicines’ risks outweigh their benefits in children. 

“FDA is also requiring the addition of safety information about the risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose, death, and slowed or difficult breathing to the Boxed Warning, the most prominent warning, of the drug labels for prescription cough and cold medicines containing codeine or hydrocodone,” agency officials said. “FDA is taking this action after conducting an extensive review and convening a panel of outside experts.”

So what should you do?

Well, first of all, reassure parents that coughing because of colds or upper respiratory infections generally does not need to be treated with medications. If cough medicines are necessary, FDA recommends non-opioid medications such as dextromethorphan and prescription benzonatate products.

If you want more information, including a list of prescription medications that include codeine or hydrocodone, check out the FDA’s website.



Last Updated On

January 17, 2018

David Doolittle

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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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