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Kids should avoid ingesting cough and cold products with opioids: Health Canada

Last Updated Feb 18, 2019 at 2:55 pm EST


Children and teens under the age of 18 shouldn't use over-the-counter cough and cold products containing opioids.

A recent study done by the federal government suggests these products may lead to difficulties with substance abuse.

Health Canada is recommending children stop ingesting ingredients used in some cold and cough medicine because of its potential links to problematic substance abuse.

Based on a new safety review, the agency says anyone under the age of 18 should not use over-the-counter products that contain codeine, hydrocodone and normethadone, as a precautionary measure.

The review found the early use of opioids could be a factor in problematic substance use later in life. It also detected limited evidence to support the effectiveness of the cough and cold medicines for children.

However, they did say there was no strong evidence linking cough and cold products that contain opioids with opioid use disorders.

They recommend parents should ask their health care professional about alternatives to cough and cold medicines that contain opioids.

Codeine products are already not recommended for children under 12 while hydrocodone and normethadone products were not recommended for children under six.

While most codeine products do require a prescription, however, there are some over-the counter products that contain a low dose of codeine.

Health Canada is asking manufacturers of the medicines to update their product safety information to make it clear the the products should not be taken by minors.

The agency also plans to consult with the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network for additional studies on the links between opioid use disorder and the use of products that contain opioids.