Health Ministry bans OTC cough syrups for young children

Decision comes two days after 'Post' queried pharmacy division officials about its use.

babies 298 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
babies 298 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Health Ministry on Monday officially recommended that over-the-counter cough syrups not be given to children under the age of two after The Jerusalem Post queried pharmacy division officials about a US Food and Drug Administration advisory on the subject. Until now, giving these syrups to babies was permitted after their first birthday. Three syrups sold here were relevant to these instructions, the ministry said: Symphocal, Tussophedrene COD and the new version of Broncho D. The leaflets accompanying these products currently say they can be given to children over the age of 12 months. It is very important that parents read the leaflets and to use the special measuring spoon included with syrups according to instructions so children are not over-dosed, the ministry said. The use of nonprescription cough syrups containing adrenaline-like pseudoephedrine is much less common in the Israel than in the United States, where there have been reports of 1,500 adverse effects in young patients reaching emergency rooms, including three deaths, and syrups are widely available in supermarkets. Prof. Yona Amitai, a veteran pediatrician and toxicologist who heads the ministry's department of mother and child health, said he would follow the deliberations of a panel of independent experts set to meet on October 18 and to report to the FDA.