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The most recent advice on Bonjela hitting the headlines follows an earlier official release on the use of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for children under the age of 12.

Changes to promote the safer use of cough and cold medicines have been amended by the MHRA on advice from the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), reports the BBC, as “no robust evidence” that many popular remedies worked had been found, though they may cause side effects such as allergic reactions, effects on sleep or hallucinations.

“Many years ago it was thought that we could use adult doses in a watereddown way but we now know that children’s bodies are different”

In an attempt to improve the balance of risks and benefits, the MHRA has advised that 36 medicines should no longer be sold to children under the age of 6, with clearer dosage advice for children between 6 and 12 to be given on packaging. The risks of side effects are reduced in older children as they weigh more and get fewer colds.

Reports Dominic Tobin in The Sunday Times: “As part of a “change in thinking”, pharmacists will be issued with new advice.” “Many years ago it was thought that we could use adult doses in a watered-down way but we now know that children’s bodies are different,” said Jeremy Mead, a spokesman for the MHRA. However, the MHRA added that parents should not worry if they have used the medicines in the past and shop shelves will not be cleared of current stock.

The NHS has given advice to concerned parents: “Provided that the child has been given the dose as recommended, you do not need to worry; but if you have concerns about the condition of your child, you should contact a health professional.”

The cough and cold medicines no longer recommended for under 6s contain the ingredients below:

nasal decongestants (pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine, oxymetazoline and xylometazoline);

antihistamines (diphenhydramine, chlorphenamine bromopheniramine, promethazine, triprolidine and doxylamine);

antitussives (dextromethorphan and pholcodine); and expectorants (guaifenesin and ipecacuanha).

In a press release by the MRHA, the timetable of changes was explained: “Newly labelled products will start to appear for the 2009 cough and cold season. Medicines with the old labelling will not be cleared off shelves.This is because many of these products are used in adults and children, and so cannot be withdrawn, creating a shortage of these medicines. These changes should be completed by March 2010.”

The NHS advises that: “Cough and colds are self-limiting conditions and will usually get better by themselves. Simple measures such as ensuring your child has plenty to drink and gets enough rest will help. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can also be used to reduce your child’s temperature. For young babies, particularly those who are having difficulty feeding, nasal saline drops are available to help thin and clear nasal secretions. If your child is over the age of one, a warm drink of lemon and honey may help to ease a cough. If your child is not getting better after five days, ask a health professional for advice.”

Side effects can include allergic reactions, poor sleep and hallucinations

Useful links:

The following lists provided by the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) – explain what medicines can still be given to under 6s and those which should be avoided:

Which products can I still give my child under 6 years of age? – releases/ Productlistcanbegiven28.2.09.pdf

Which products are being relabelled to remove the doses for under 6s? – releases/Productlistrelabelled28.2.09.pdf

The Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) –

NHS Direct – www.nhs.u