Published: June 2010

Cough and cold medicines update and reminder

Prescriber Update 31(2): 12
June 2010

With winter approaching, healthcare professionals are reminded that medicines intended for the treatment of the symptoms of the common cold should not be used in children under six years of age if they contain one or more of the following substances:

guaifenesin phenylephrine doxylamine
ipecacuanha brompheniramine promethazine
dextromethorphan chlorphenamine triprolidine
pholcodine diphenhydramine pseudoephedrine

In addition medicines containing bromhexine, oxymetazoline and xylometazoline should not be used in children under two years of age.

Due to the long lead times between products being manufactured and their retail availability, medicines with updated package labelling may not start to appear until later this year. The deadline for updated package labelling is May 2011. Although the gradual change in product labelling may cause some confusion, Medsafe considers this is the best way to ensure these products remain available for adults over the coming winter season.

In its review, the Cough and Cold Review Group also recommended that children with colds should be allowed to rest, be made comfortable and be given plenty of fluids. In some cases it may be appropriate to use saline nose drops, or to give honey drinks to children over one year of age to help soothe a cough.

The Medicines Classification Committee (MCC) recently reviewed a submission to reclassify medicines containing dextromethorphan, guaiphenesin, ipecacuanha and phenylephrine, indicated for the treatment of the symptoms of the common cold. The outcome of the Committee's review will be published separately.