Friday, October 12, 2007

Very Disturbing

So you've probably heard about the recall of OTC decongestants for kids under 2. Just in time for flu season. I'm confused by this; the medicine we've used in the past gave clear dosing instructions by weight and age. In some cases where dosing instructions were not available, we gave the medicine based on advice from the pediatrician.

Let me begin by stating that I generally prefer to avoid drugs for me and my children. We try the home remedy/suffering route first. But we have used those cold medicines in the past, not so much cough meds, but definitely decongestants and antihistamines.

I'm very unclear just where the danger lies, as many articles state that overdosing reactions and/or death were often the result of the parents not administering the medication appropriately. (emphasis added)

. . . parents must follow the directions, said Dr. Maria Fisher, an Arlington pediatrician. The biggest mistake parents make is failing to read the whole label. They give their child a multisymptom medication that contains a decongestant, antihistamine and acetaminophen. Then they give the child Tylenol for a fever. They end up in the emergency room with a hyper, wired, screaming child who has overdosed on acetaminophen.

And I'm not at all confident that our government-sponsored drug overseers are the ones properly qualified to handle, well, any of this matter. And I'm not the biggest fan of the American Academy of Pediatrics either. Or the AMA for that matter. But I digress.

I read another article about the medication recall tonight and I'm very concerned about this passage (emphasis added):

Food and Drug Administration officials are also considering banning antihistamines for those younger than 6 and decongestants for children younger than 2.


Antihistamines to avoid in small children include diphenhydramine, brompheniramine and chlorpheniramine.

(Diphenhydramine is Benadryl.)

Um, excuse me? I get really concerned when I read the word "banned" because I'm not sure if they mean "remove it from OTC status and make it a prescription" or "children under 6 may not have antihistamines." I don't know enough about how this whole drug apparatus really really works. It has to be the first definition, right? Prescriptions will still be available--right? Ryan needs Benadryl on hand as surely as he needs Epipens, so I must assume that he'll still be able to get it--and that his younger sister can get it if she needs it.

I'm just scratching my head here--should I begin stockpiling Benadryl now? Help me if you know more about this--where I can see some actual numbers (not media-reported numbers)? How many studies? How were the studies designed? What were the sample sizes? Why is this a big deal suddenly, or has it been creeping up for a while? Was the Sudafed ban just the beginning?

I need to understand this because this will significantly--and negatively--impact the lives of my kids and our whole family. Have I really been putting my children's health in danger by giving them these medicines in the past, or is this recall coming from an overabundance of caution because some parents have made terrible, tragic mistakes?


Charlie said...

I think it's an overreaction based on political motives, without sound scientific evidence.

It's just another example of the nanny state, where the fedruhl gubment comes up with new intrusive rules and regs to compensate for the stupidity of a tiny minority of bozos. The intention, of course, is the protection of our most precious national asset, which somehow gives the govt. just cause to do whatever they want.

I just hope that cooler heads will prevail when people start raising concerns like the ones you mentioned.

Rational Jenn said...

Our nanny did we ever survive without her?

What's driving me nuts is that I have no way to get objective information about this, since the FDA is part of the nanny machine.