New safety labeling changes for prescription cough and cold medicines containing codeine or hydrocodone limit their use to adults 18 years or older.
The Food and Drug Administration took this action after “conducting an extensive review and convening a panel of outside experts,” which determined that the risks of these medicines outweigh their benefits in children younger than 18 years. The agency also is requiring companies to add a boxed warning to drug labels for prescription cough and cold medicines containing codeine or hydrocodone about the “risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose, death, and slowed or difficult breathing,” according to an FDA safety announcement.
Common side effects of opioids include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, shortness of breath, and headache, according to the press release.
Reassure parents that cough because of a cold or upper respiratory infection is self-limited and generally does not need to be treated, the FDA advised. If children do need cough treatment, there are over-the-counter products such as dextromethorphan, as well as prescription benzonatate products, the FDA said. Encourage parents to check labels of nonprescription cough and cold products.
In a few states, some codeine cough medicines are available OTC. The FDA is considering regulatory action for these products, according to the safety announcement.