FDA strengthens labeling on cough syrups containing opioids for children

ROANOKE, Va. – As the opioid addiction crisis continues, the Food and Drug Administration is doing what it can to prevent future creating abusers, especially children. 

The FDA plans to change the labeling on cough syrups containing hydrocodone or codeine. It  hopes that limiting the use of these drugs in children can reduce their opioid addiction risk.

Caitlyn Sherwood, has a four-month-old daughter and worries about giving these cough syrups to her.

“I do have some fear because I am a recovering addict,” said Sherwood. “So I think, at some point in my life, I was prescribed things I ended up abusing, because of words that I heard, like codeine or other opioids that I wanted to abuse.”

After the labeling changes are made, certain prescriptions will no longer be targeted for use to treat cough symptoms in children under 18. Instead, they will be labeled for use only by adults age 18 and older. 

The labeling for the medications is also being updated for adult use. This includes a larger boxed warning, the FDA’s most important warning.

"Expose to an opioid at a younger age just gets that cycle going especially if there is any potential of overuse or abuse and I think they are just trying to stop it an earlier age," said Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Angela Martin. 

Martin said research shows that the benefits of the use of an opioid-containing cough syrup does not outweigh the risks. One of those risks includes shallow breathing, which can lead to death. 

Despite FDA restrictions to limit the use of cough syrup to adults only, there are cough syrups that are still available over the counter for use.  

"I do have a little bit of fear that she ( Sherwood's daughter) also will be an addict,” said Sherwood. “So that is something I have to think about.”