Washington — Give plenty of fluids and saltwater nose drops.
These old-fashioned remedies for treating colds in small children are poised to make a comeback now that drug makers have pulled cold medicines for babies off the market.
The move Thursday represented a pre-emptive strike by over-the-counter drug manufacturers - a week before government advisers were to debate the medicines' fate. But it doesn't end concern about the safety of these remedies for youngsters.
Thursday's withdrawal includes medicines aimed at children under age 2, after the Food and Drug Administration and other health groups reported deaths linked to the remedies in recent years, primarily from unintentional overdoses.
A remaining question is whether children under 6 should ever take these nonprescription drugs.
Baltimore city officials filed a petition with the FDA - joined by the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and prominent pediatricians around the country - arguing that oral cough and cold medicines don't work in children so young, and pose health risks not just for babies but for preschoolers, too.
"Pediatricians are taught these products don't work and may not be safe. Yet almost every parent uses them," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore's health commissioner and a pediatrician, who blames ads that overpromise relief.
The challenge, he says, will be to convince parents to try old-fashioned methods, like suctioning out infants' noses or using salt-water nose drops.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association announced Thursday that manufacturers were voluntarily ending sales of over-the-counter oral cough and cold products aimed at infants. The list includes infant drops sold under the leading brand names Dimetapp, Pediacare, Robitussin, Triaminic, Little Colds, and versions of Tylenol that contain cough and cold ingredients. CVS Caremark Corp. added that it would also end sales of CVS-brand equivalents.