Just a spoonful of…?

December 6, 2010

A new study reveals that dosing instructions on 200 of the best-selling children’s liquid cold, cough, allergy and GI medicines are inconsistent and difficult for parents to follow. The products were examined following the release of voluntary guidelines recommended by the FDA in 2009, such as including a dosing device and using consistent abbreviations and units of measurement.

The research team examined the over-the-counter liquid medications for children under the age of 12 years old. All medications were sold in the year following the release of the FDA recommendations.

Almost 75 percent of the products included a measuring device but for 98.6 percent of those, the directions did not match the markings on the device, HealthDay reports. The necessary markings were either absent or there were unnecessary markings present.

WebMD reports some of the other major findings:

  • One-in-four liquid drugs examined did not contain a dosing device, such as a cup, dropper, or syringe.
  • Just about all of those that did (99%) had markings on the enclosed device that were inconsistent with the label instructions. Some of these inconsistencies were small, but others made correct dosing very difficult, the researcher noted.
  • More than half the medicines did not use standard abbreviations for terms such as teaspoon or milliliter.

Lead study author Dr. H. Shonna Yin, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the NYU School of Medicine, tells HealthDay:

“We’re pretty concerned that voluntary guidelines won’t be able to fix the problem. The FDA may need to set standards and regulate products.”

This study is published in the December 15th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.


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