Abu Dhabi: A UAE based survey, showed that out of 56 randomly selected cough and cold medications for children, 77 per cent did not use Child Resistant Caps (CRC).

CRC's cannot be opened by simply unscrewing, thus preventing unintentional misuse by a child.

The study conducted by the Medication & Medical Products Safety Section (MMPSS) at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) also found that 61 per cent of those cough and cold medications failed to offer information on the medicine's alcohol content. As a result, several cough and cold products for children were pulled off the market.

Speaking about alcohol contents in cold and cough syrups, S.V. Karnataki, General Manager of Neopharm Abu Dhabi, said: "Alcohol is sometimes used in certain syrups including cold and cough formulations to dissolve certain pharmaceutical ingredients and to maintain them in a clear solution form. Alcohol in such case acts as a co-solvent."

Accidental use

Karnataki emphasised the importance of making sure cough and cold medications are packaged in bottles with CRC to ensure child safety. "This helps prevent an accidental use of syrup by a child, leading to adverse health consequences."

The MMPSS have witnessed several cases of over-the-counter medication misuse and prescription drug abuse, especially among children.

"Parents haphazardly give their child two types of cough and cold medications at the same time, which can result in aggressive behaviour, hyperactivity, drowsiness, and cardio-toxicity. Due to being un-aware of their child's condition, some parents end up spanking them, or blaming their behaviour on bad manners. That's why we insist on conducting education campaigns," said Dr Yasser Sharif, Head of the MMPSS.

When screening 105 cough and cold medications, covering all dosage forms such as tablets, syrup, nasal drops and rubs, the MMPSS found that 41 per cent of the products did not have a dose measuring device, which helps patients know the accurate dose required to help prevent overdose and medical complications.


"After conducting our survey, we concluded that cough and cold products aren't suitable for children younger than six years old, due to lack of efficacy and high risk of overdose.

"We endorsed the decision taken up by the UAE Ministry of Health [MoH]. Our next step is to take the initiative along with the MoH and consider changes in labelled information for those medications," said Dr Sharif.

Adults are equally at risk when not following medication and dosage instructions carefully. "Over 500 adults in the United States were recently reported [to have died] due to overdosing on Paracetamol.

"If individual's are unsure of the amount to consume, they can simply consult a physician or a pharmacist," said the doctor.

Safe limits

Alcohol contents in cold and cough syrups:

UAE Ministry of Health has issued a circular (Ref No 69/1099/1-11 dated December 24, 1996) on the restrictions with maximum percentange of Alcohol content in liquid oral products as under:

Children less than 6 years: 0.5 per cent w/v.

Children 6 to 12 years: 5 per cent w/v.

Children more than 12 years and adults: 10 per cent w/v.

Are you careful when it comes to giving your children medicine? Do you know the side effects of such medicines?