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Confusing Labeling Found on Many Nonprescription Kids' Meds
Date:12/1/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- The admonishment to parents to carefully follow the directions on the labels of over-the-counter kids' medicines may be futile, new research suggests.

The study found that most of the popular cough-and-cold, pain-relieving, allergy and stomach drugs just don't explain dosing very well to begin with. Nor is there much consistency in product labeling.

"Almost all the products had inconsistencies," said Dr. H. Shonna Yin, lead author of an early-release study that will be published in the Dec. 15 print issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Karen Wilson, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, found the results "shocking" and yet not altogether surprising.

"Having inconsistencies in the labeling of nonprescription medications that are being used with children obviously increases the likelihood of misdosing quite a bit," she said. "But being a parent and a physician, I've known that dosing is not very easy to figure out."

"This is a real issue," added Dr. G. Randall Bond, medical director of the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "I think it will make a big difference if we can work toward the goals [the authors set out]."

But he also pointed out that while "a large number of emergency visits are related to [over-the-counter medications], very few of those are related to misdosing. Most of the time it's kids who got into the medicine. That's the real driver."

The study comes almost exactly a year after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued voluntary guidelines recommending that manufacturers of common over-the-counter medications be more consistent in their dosing directions and include measuring devices with the products, among other suggestions.

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