Risk with No Benefit: The Marketing of Over-the-Counter Cough and Cold Medications for Children

Risk with No Benefit: The Marketing of Over-the-Counter Cough and Cold Medications for Children

The Prescription Project report shows that companies producing over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines spent more than $50 million marketing these widely used products for children under the age of 6 despite evidence of risks and lack of effectiveness in treating children. The report, titled Risk With No Benefit: The Marketing of Over-the-Counter Cough and Cold Medications for Children, was released to coincide with a Federal Drug Administration's Nonprescription Drug Advisory Committee hearing on the potential dangers of these products for children under the age of 6.

The Prescription Project report, which analyzed FDA, industry, and epidemiological documents on OTC remedies, shows a lack of efficacy data but a significant number of reported injuries and deaths associated with overdosing of these products. Manufacturers have heavily marketed this class of OTC preparations for many years based on their FDA classification as “safe and effective,” yet the FDA has not conducted or brought forward a single study or review to prove the safety or effectiveness of these products for use in small children in the last three decades.

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