The timing almost couldn’t have been worse: Just as parents are gearing up for another season of runny noses, hacking coughs, and general pediatric misery, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) announced, on October 11th, a voluntary withdrawal of oral infant cough and cold medications. One week later, two advisory committees voted to recommend to the FDA that active ingredients in such cough and cold medications no longer be used for children under six years old.
Do you hear the agitated whispers in the background? That’s not just the sound of giant OTC med companies panicking about profits. It’s also the sound of panicked parents wondering how the heck to care for their sick children this winter.
In fact, you already may be getting the calls.
But as a doctor, you don’t have to panic, because this is a really good chance for you to develop a really good patient handout on dealing with colds and coughs without using the recalled medications. Explain what the problem is (young patients have overdosed on the medications). Explain the new guidelines (pediatric cold and cough medications should no longer be used for children under 2). Write out a list of bulleted instructions of how sneezing, coughing, feverish patients should best be tended — whether they’re 2 months, 2 years, or 12. Then hand it out to every parent who walks in the door — whether they’ve come with a cold-inflicted child or not.
Is it the same old, same old advice you’ve been giving to parents for decades? Possibly. But by taking this simple step you’ll be reinforcing your image as a doctor who both knows what’s going on and who cares enough to communicate about it.
Extra bonus: You may save your staff a lot of phone calls from worried parents.