In which I bitch about the FDA and the Media and Big Government
Thank you, FDA, for trying to protect my children from my own stupidity. (Insert annoyed ironic smirk here.)
Unless you've been living under a rock (or, like, parenting a sleepless child or something) - you've probably noticed several media stories discussing the FDA and children's "cough and cold remedies."
If you haven't read anything, you can read an example here: http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/1201599302271000.xml&coll=2
Amid all this brouhaha, I have two main complaints:
1. The media stories do not discuss WHICH cough and cold remedies they are suggesting don't work in children. I'm not asking for brand names, I'm just asking the media to do their job and report on the specific drugs, by their generic names.
- For example, if the FDA is saying that Phenylephrine (this is in products such as Sud*phed PE) is ineffective in children, I would say, "Hallelujah" and "they are abso-f**king-lutely correct." Why do I feel this way? Because phenylephrine at the maximum over the counter dose for adults (10 mg) is NOT effective in relieving nasal congestion. I have personal experience with this, but, actual scientists say so as well. (The FDA may SAY it works in adults, but, I tend to to believe the scientists at the University of Florida over the FDA.) Call me crazy. http://www.herbalist.com/news.details/2557/category/0/start/0/ This is not new information to me - Back in 2006, Rep. Henry Waxman was asking the FDA to look into the effectiveness of phenylephrine: http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1143. So, is the FDA finally ponying up to the idea that PE products don't work? WE DON'T KNOW because the news stories aren't telling us which products the FDA is questioning - they are just lumping them all as "cough and cold medicines".
- I'm curious if the FDA is suggesting that pseudoephedrine (i.e. Sud*phed) is ineffective in children? Because, if that is what they are saying, they are FLAT WRONG. When I give my children pseudoephedrine, THEIR NOSES STOP RUNNING. Guess what? The same thing happens when *I* take pseudoephedrine. It works. So, don't tell me, FDA, that it doesn't work. If you want to tell me I cannot buy it anymore because of the f**king meth-heads, whatever, tell me that. (I'll be pissed, but, less so when I feel like you are using this study as a means to an end, as opposed to just being honest with the American people about wanting to take this incredibly effective product off the market because of drug addicts - who, by the way, are not handing over their driver's licences to get a single box, but are instead stealing whole cases off of trucks, or, more likely, importing the stuff from overseas.)
- Diphenhydramine HCl (aka Ben*dryl) is also an effective over the counter drug - most effective, in my experience, for non-life threatening allergic reactions to things like bug bites, or for putting (many) people* to sleep. I defy anyone who has ever parented a sick child to begrudge them the fact that Diphenhydramine HCl quiets coughing and allergy symptoms in children, (probably because it puts them to sleep), because sick children need rest. I use it when *I* have a cold, too, because I need sleep. Shoot me for finding this drug effective and useful. But, again, we don't KNOW if this is one of the drugs the FDA is questioning BECAUSE THE MEDIA ISN'T TELLING US.
2. My second problem with the research is that most of the articles are saying that the problems that the FDA is concerned about arise when parents overdose their children because they give them two brands of cold-medicine that have the same ingredient, or when the children overdose themselves when the medicine is left out. Excuse me for feeling like it is NOT the FDA's job to keep stupid people from doing stupid things. What about *MY* responsibility as a parent to READ THE DAMN LABEL before I put something in my kid?? What about *MY* responsibility as a parent to put the medicine out of harm's way? My house is full of dangerous chemicals, like toilet bowl cleaner and nail polish remover. Should the FDA take THOSE things away from parents as well?
I'm a grown-up of reasonable intelligence. I want effective products to be made available to me. I don't want to be told that I cannot treat my daughter's runny nose because some yahoos have, on occasion, overdosed their children or left the product out where the child could reach it. (I'm not saying these aren't sad stories, I'm just saying that we cannot ask the government to protect us from our own poor choices.) I want the media to be just a little bit responsible, and NOT underestimate my intelligence, and tell me what the FDA is really saying about which drugs. And I want the government to keep its nose out of MY KIDS noses!
Lastly, what does the FDA THINK will happen when they take children's cough and cold medicines off of the market? Because what I think will happen is that lots of parents will cut adult cold medicines in half and give them to their kids. If they think lots of kids are being overdosed now, I cannot imagine what they think will happen when parents have no other option but to try to guesstimate a child's dose of an adult medication.
Possibly overreacting a bit,
*admittedly some people, among them Husband, have a reaction to Ben*adryl that is more like mania than sleeplessness. It is not a good product for those people.