CDC Report Highlights the Need for Safe Use and Safekeeping of Medicines

Leading makers of OTC medicines working to raise awareness of this need among parents, healthcare professionals

Washington, D.C. (January 28, 2008)—A government report published today by the journal Pediatrics shows that the number of emergency room visits by children attributable to pediatric over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription cough and cold medicines are rare—and of these visits, a vast majority were to due to accidental ingestion. The review was prepared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Linda A. Suydam, D.P.A., president, Consumer Healthcare Products Association, commented on the analysis, stating: "This CDC review puts the overall discussion of pediatric cough and cold remedies into perspective by focusing on concrete data that address the real issue. These medicines are safe when used as directed, and this government review underscores the importance of educating consumers—especially those with small children—on the safe use and safekeeping of medicine."

CHPA has been working to educate consumers that safe use and safekeeping of all medicines can be critical in preventing adverse events. "Safety and the safe use of our medicines are our top priority, so it is important that we understand the root causes of any adverse event, and raise awareness about storing medicines safely out of the reach of children," said Suydam.

According to the CDC report, unsupervised ingestions of either prescription or OTC cough and cold medicines account for two-thirds of emergency department visits related to OTC and prescription cough and cold medicines. This examination of emergency room data reinforces and further validates nationwide poison control data. An independent analysis of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ database also demonstrates that accidental ingestion by children ages 2-5 accounts for the majority of non-fatal adverse events. Richard Dart, M.D., director, Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, said: "Today’s review by the CDC is consistent with the findings of an independent panel of medical experts. The risks can be addressed by educating consumers to follow the directions on the package label and perhaps other techniques."

"CHPA’s member companies remain committed to ensuring that all OTC oral pediatric cough and cold medicines are packaged appropriately," Suydam emphasized. "The leading makers of these medicines have been moving ahead rapidly on this front, so that child-resistant packaging will be voluntarily added even where it is not required."

CHPA is also engaging parents in an expanded education campaign focusing on the importance of using and storing all medicines safely. This effort includes an educational web site, OTCsafety.org, which is designed to provide parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals with helpful reminders on how to use and store OTC medicines safely.

"Real-life experience shows that most parents use these medicines safely and are satisfied with how they treat their child’s cough and cold symptoms," Suydam said.

Contact: Elizabeth Funderburk, 202.429.9260 (w) 202.256.5677 (m)


CHPA is the 127-year-old trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and nutritional supplement.