The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it is requiring safety labeling changes to limit the use of prescription opioid cough and cold medicines containing codeine or hydrocodone in children younger than 18 years old because the serious risks of these medicines outweigh their potential benefits in this population. After safety labeling changes are made, these products will no longer be indicated for use to treat cough in any pediatric population and will be labeled for use only in adults aged 18 years and older.
Labeling for the medications also is being updated with additional safety information for adult use – including an expanded Boxed Warning, the FDA’s most prominent warning ‒ notifying about the risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death, and slowed or difficult breathing that can result from exposure to codeine or hydrocodone.
“Given the epidemic of opioid addiction, we’re concerned about unnecessary exposure to opioids, especially in young children. We know that any exposure to opioid drugs can lead to future addiction. It’s become clear that the use of prescription, opioid-containing medicines to treat cough and cold in children comes with serious risks that don’t justify their use in this vulnerable population,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
“It’s critical that we protect children from unnecessary exposure to prescription cough medicines containing codeine or hydrocodone. At the same time we’re taking steps to help reassure parents that treating the common cough and cold is possible without using opioid-containing products.”
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