Old news, but good news. It was March 2nd of this year when the FDA announced that more than 500 cold, cough and allergy prescription products were to be pulled from the market. With all manufacturing stopping within 90 days and off the shelves within 180 (I always find it interesting how a decision is made based on lack of safety, then they allow the product to continue on the market).
Web MD has a nice article on this announcement, and states that there is an irrational combination of ingredients in many of these products, such as two or more antihistamines and poor labeling for child use.
Yolandra Hancock, MD, a pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., praises the FDA’s move.
“The new FDA decision supports modern-day pediatric practice to avoid cough syrups in children under 2 because they do more harm than good,” she says. Some may slow down breathing, and others decrease cough and allow mucus to sit in the chest, where it can cause other problems such as lung infection, she says.
There are a lot of different takes on what this means when we read an article like this. First off, “are the drugs that we use on a once and awhile basis safe”? I would say emphatically no. However, over the last year, my eye (for those who don’t read me often, I have a blind left eye, with a prosthetic over it – hockey puck in 2006) has hurt me significantly on about a half dozen occasions. In order for me to stand up and adjust, and carry on conversations, I needed to medicate. Usually I opted for ibuprofen, but I know full well, it is not safe, and it does reduce my potential long term every time I take it.
Next question that is beckoned… what other medications have been used in ways that cause more secondary harm than good. This is in response to Dr. Hancock’s quote above, “problems such as lung infection”. How many times have we said, God put the symptom there, and it is there for a reason. So if you are coughing, I’m sorry, deal with it and cough, because the cough is good. Even when I tell you to ice something… I only want you to control that inflammation just enough to be able to get by… you probably shouldn’t ice, because your body puts that inflammation there for a reason. The only issue is that we don’t stay home and get well, we run off to work and make it all worse… if you choose to stay home, don’t ice!
Last one. Are there even more harmful effects that are completely unknown? As I read through the study published in February 2004 in the Journal American Medical Association on antibiotic cancer risk (published by Christine M. Velicer, PhD, Susan R. Heckbert, MD, PhD, Johanna W. Lampe, PhD, RD, John D. Potter, MD, PhD, Carol A. Robertson, RPh, Stephen H. Taplin, MD, MP), I wonder how many of you take this stuff lightly? I had a patient the other day tell me of the fear of what would happen without the antibiotic, and I of course weigh the risk of the antibiotic. Cancer is worse than needing to go to the hospital for fluids… but better yet, let me close this article with you considering when is the body actually in failure? Your MD and pediatric nurse are going to fall out way before me. They have little trust and faith in this body.
My daughter Brooke has never had a med… but 95% of you, if she was your daughter, would likely have medicated her. She has on three occasions in her life spent the night awake, coming to me in my room, crying and complaining of how bad her ear hurts. To you that is an ear infection. To me, it is a clogged Eustachian tube with the potential of becoming an ear infection. The difference is that the thing that produces pain, is pressure… not a virus. So the pressure comes from a lack of drainage, which comes from something blocking the Eustachian tube. So in all of these cases I adjusted her (usually a couple times in the night) and then used a hairdryer and warm compresses on the side of her neck below her ear (this is to soften the mucous that is plugging her tube). In every situation, we have helped her to be pain free at some point (in most cases is takes hours).
So what good is an antibiotic in this case? If over time, we cannot reconcile that pressure, and it remains sitting in the ear, then the chance of ear infection goes up. HOWEVER, most of these infections are viral not bacterial (Arch Latinoam Nutr 2001;1(1):64-71), and most will self resolve, and often do right around the course of antibiotic treatment giving false kudos to antibiotics (Can J Psychiatry 2003;48(3):195-20). I find this especially compelling because Brooke typically was fully resolved on the second night, which in many cases would be after antibiotic treatment. But if I did not adjust Brooke and apply heat, it might have lasted three nights or more, leading to an even more compelling case that antibiotics would be the salvation… had we actually given them to her.
Ansley, at a few months old, was in respiratory distress (at least she was according to hospital nomenclature). She had a 103.5 degree temperature, and she was breathing tiny little breaths every third second. Apnea. Most parents would have rushed her to the hospital, saying “save my child, save my child” (actually my wife went so far as to tell me, “If you hurt our child…” – which translated to “I am scared to death”). I responded to her “I love this girl so much that i would lay my life down for her, and if we take her to the hospital they will scare you to death, and pump her full of antibiotics and tylenol for her fever, and steroids for her breathing, and they will label her asthmatic, and we will be using a nebulizer, and we will have a sick girl. However, if you trust me, I will stay up with her, and I will watch her through to make sure her fever breaks and her breathing normalizes, and that she is allowed an opportunity to be stronger for this challenge, not worse”.
It took about four hours, and all was well. She was perfectly well within another day. She came away stronger, whereas every single drug makes you weaker. And we came away with more faith and trust in the body as an incredible creation than we had ever had before that time. I don’t wear the no meds ever as a badge of “look what we can do”, but I DO wear it as a badge of “have you seen the potential in this body created by God?”
Don’t take this the wrong way, I am not chastising any of you in this writing. I am telling you that your hears are founded in lies and deceit. A great evil has been perpetrated on the people of this country, and it is the dependence on a chemical that weakens the body, it does not strengthen it. Those that go down this path completely, will have their health slowly stripped from them, and that is the simple truth.
I love you – God Bless – Dr. E