Health Canada says kids 18 and under should not be given cough and cold products that have opioids like codeine, hydrocodone and normethadone — the three prescription opioids authorized to treat cough symptoms in Canada.
A recent safety review by the federal agency of cough and cold products “did not find any strong evidence linking cough and cold products that contain opioids with opioid use disorders in children and adolescents,” but found “early use of opioids may be a factor in problematic substance use later in life.”
Health Canada also found there is “limited evidence” to support the effectiveness of these products in those under 18, noting other products are available to help relieve cough and cold symptoms in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed its guidelines for such medication last year, saying the “risks … outweigh the benefits” for those under-18.
Non-prescription products containing codeine are already labelled to make it clear they should not be used by children.
Health Canada is also asking manufacturers to update their product safety information to reflect the recommendation.
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