FDA panel: Teens risk breathing trouble from codeine cough syrup

Cough medicines containing codeine or hydrocodone may sometimes help a teen get through a cold, but it’s not worth the dangers, a federal panel advised this week.

The panel’s biggest focus wasn’t addiction, though addiction is a significant problem with opioids. According to a report in Stat, the panel members expressed greatest concern about the medicine’s ability to slow breathing in children.

The Food and Drug Administration is examining the issue of opioids in cough medicine. It already decided in April that children under 12 should not get codeine cough medicine, and that teens and nursing mothers should be sparing with such medicine.

This week an advisory panel went further. It forcefully advised that teenagers, also, were too much at risk from cough medicine with codeine or hydrocodone.

Over the years codeine has been related to several deaths of children. One frightening concern is that the danger is unpredictable: One child may suffer or die after another is fine after taking the same dose.

The panel serves only an advisory role, and the FDA has not yet issued the government’s official recommendation.

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