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The Food and Drug Administration should impose tough new restrictions on giving products containing codeine to kids. That's the recommendation today from an FDA advisory committee. Here's NPR health correspondent Rob Stein.
ROB STEIN, BYLINE: When kids get back coughs, parents and doctors often give them remedies that contain codeine. Codeine's also combined with other drugs to help kids who are in pain, like after they've had an operation.
But the FDA's been getting more and more worried about kids getting codeine. That's because it can cause some children to stop breathing. This is rare, but it can happen, especially in kids whose bodies quickly convert codeine into morphine. The panel heard about dozens of frightening cases when kids stopped breathing, including at least two dozen deaths. Several panel members noted that there are big questions about whether codeine can really even help kids' coughs. And there are other drugs that may be much safer painkillers.
At the end of the day, the committee voted overwhelmingly to recommend against letting anyone under the age of 18 get prescription drugs containing codeine to treat coughs or pain. Maria Pruchnicki of Ohio State University is a member of the committee.
MARIA PRUCHNICKI: My concern were I to be prescribing codeine in children would be that I would, frankly, kill them.
STEIN: The committee also voted by a wide margin that codeine products for use by kids should no longer be sold without a prescription. The FDA doesn't have to follow the recommendations of its advisory committees, but the agency usually does. Rob Stein, NPR News.