Dangerous Side Effects of Children's Cough Medicines

childrens cough medicine

Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines for children have been available in the United States for the last 40 years. Parents will do almost anything to relieve their child’s suffering when they are sick. However, pharmaceutical companies have turned parental concern into a multi-million dollar business. These companies market cold medicine and cough suppressants by promising symptom relief, but often fail to warn parents of the potential harmful effects. Dangerous ingredients and the risk of accidental overdose could result in serious injuries, including organ damage, or the wrongful death of a child.

If your child suffered dangerous side-effects as a result of over-the-counter cold or cough medicine, then you may be able to hold the pharmaceutical company accountable in a product liability lawsuit. At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., our attorneys have a history of success advocating for victims of serious child injuries caused by bad medication. In one product liability case, a child injury attorney from our firm represented a child who suffered permanent brain injury due to medication errors. In that case, we obtained a settlement of $8 million, helping to secure the child’s future.

What are the Dangers of Children’s Cold and Cough Medicine?

The most common problems arise due to drug makers’ failure to warn customers about the conceivable dangers of these over-the-counter children’s medicines. Their marketing is also often misleading with many invoking words like “infant” and “baby.” Some even go as far as to say that they are “pediatrician recommended.” However, most pediatricians advise against the use for children, especially for those under the age of four.

In high doses, these cold and cough medications can cause catastrophic child injuries due to poisoning and other complications. In rare cases, even the recommended dose can result in negative, potentially fatal side effects. These medications may:

  • Affect the heart, leading to arrhythmias
  • Affect the lungs, causing difficulty breathing, oxygen deprivation and possibly suffocation
  • Increase blood pressure, lead to strokes and hypertension

Overdoses on these types of medications can be relatively easy to achieve for a few reasons:

  • Parents may give their children two or three different brands of medicines to treat different symptoms. However, most over-the-counter cold and cough medications have the same active ingredients, causing inadvertent overdose.
  • Worried and frantic parents may ignore the recommended dosages. However, administering more medication does not make it more effective.
  • Children sometimes metabolize the ingredients more quickly than adults, which can cause a lethal buildup of opioids.

The three key ingredients in most of these medicines; dextromethorphan, guaifenesin and phenylephrine, received approval from the FDA when standards were much lower. Thus, modern pharmaceutical companies may use these drugs in any combination without having to conduct lengthy and expensive studies required of new drugs. This in combination with many companies’ failure to warn consumers of dangerous side effects increases the risk of child injuries.

What Should I Do as a Parent to Prevent Child Injuries from Cough Medicine?

Negligent pharmaceutical companies are generally liable for the harm that results from their failure to warn about harmful side effects. However, parents can also take certain steps to minimize the risk of poisoning and other injuries caused by cough medicine, such as:

  • Ask your pediatrician about non-pharmaceutical remedies. In many cases, parents can relieve a child’s cold symptoms without drugs. Common recommendations include humidifier use, hydration and rest. However, always seeks a physician’s opinion.
  • Remember that over-the-counter medicines cannot cure the common cold. They do not expedite their children’s recovery but merely treat the unpleasant symptoms of colds.
  • Do not treat children younger than four with over-the-counter cold medications unless told otherwise by a doctor. While this can be difficult if your child is especially uncomfortable, it can prevent serious complications.
  • Read all warning labels carefully. Despite misleading advertising, the FDA does include warnings on these over-the-counter drugs. Read these carefully and follow all recommendations.

Bad Medication Harm Your Child? Contact a Philadelphia Child Injury Attorney Now

If your child has suffered a catastrophic personal injury or wrongful death due to use of a cold or cough medicine, seek help from a child injury attorney at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. We have substantial experience and knowledge in this area to help you receive the compensation you deserve.

We have offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. However, we are able and willing to travel to meet you wherever you are to discuss your product liability claim. Call (877) 696-0968 or contact us online for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.