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Death in perspective

October 29, 2007

When I heard that children’s cold medicines may be banned as “ineffective and dangerous”, the first thought that came to my mind was something like what this pharmacology professor says:

But as a parent willing to accept the risks for my perception that my child benefits from OTC cough and cold medicine, I’ll be ticked off if the FDA removes all products intended to treat kids between 2 and 5. A patient representative quoted in a 19 October New York Times article remarked on a new concern that might then emerge: that parents would then try to give their kids reduced doses of adult cough and cold meds using pill cutters and such – a formula, I think, for far more dosing errors. (As North of 49 points out more eloquently, “I too am concerned that parents (if deprived of child-strength formulas) will attempt to harness the full power of their mathematical acumen towards doing dilutions of adult remedies.”)

Terra Sigillata: Children’s Cold Medicine Controversy

123 child deaths since 1969 sounds like a lot, but regulators seem to have trouble weighing absolute numbers in proportion to the big picture.  So TS goes on to do just that…

  1. October 30, 2007 at 05:05 | #1

    Unfortunately, I imagine the professor and you are quite right, DOF.  The decision to remove these OTC medicines for children seems very likely to lead to greater tragedy than leaving them on the market would—human nature being what it is.

  2. October 30, 2007 at 13:28 | #2

    Obviously the FDA gives more credit to the parents than most people would.

  3. October 30, 2007 at 13:35 | #3

    They probably just didn’t think of that. I’m not sure the concept of “unintended effects” ever enters the mind of a bureaucrat or a politician.

  4. james old guy
    October 30, 2007 at 15:59 | #4

    “its for the children”  so of course it is perfect. 123 deaths, hmmm since 1999, wonder how many would have died without the medicine?

  5. October 30, 2007 at 17:05 | #5

    Yes – people go all irrational when a child dies, and become angry at the suggestion that there might even BE a “big picture” they should look at. 

    Anytime I see the phrase “If it saves even one life, it will be worth it” I know that what follows is of suspect rationality.

  6. October 31, 2007 at 06:46 | #6

    I am old enough to remember when we didn’t have a lot of cold remedies on the market..for cough medicine it was some moonshine whiskey mixed with honey..probably helped the kid sleep as much as it did anything.

    I reckon the old quack’s advise of take two aspirins and go to bed is still about a good of advise as one can get for the common cold.

  7. November 3, 2007 at 08:29 | #7

    GUYK,  As a kid for us it was whiskey, honey, and lemon juice. As you said it allowed us to get to sleep, the honey coated the sore throat and I never did figure out why Dad put lemon juice in it.  I remember it was like a warm toddy.

  8. November 12, 2007 at 22:59 | #8

    Wow, people are starting to see!  Freedom is the answer!

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