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A federal committee will meet in three weeks to consider whether cough medicine containing certain opioids should be prescribed to children, the Food and Drug Administration announced Monday.

The agency already warned in April that drugs containing codeine, which is an opiate, “should not be used to treat pain or cough” in children under 12. The warning must appear on those drugs’ labels. At the time, the agency said that codeine, along with tramadol, an opioid found in some pain medications for children, “carry serious risks, including slowed or difficult breathing and death, which appear to be a greater risk in children younger than 12 years.”


The upcoming Sept. 11 meeting of the agency’s Pediatric Advisory Committee will consider medicines containing codeine, as well as medicines containing hydrocodone, an opioid derived from codeine.

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  • I hope the committee realizes that children need relief from severe pain and from unrelenting cough. As a surgeon, the judicious use of hydrocodone for postoperative pain and pain related to certain acute infections is necessary for the comfort of the patient. Rarely do I prescribe hydrocodone for cough, but sometimes a cough can prevent a child (and their parents) from sleeping at night. Please don’t make recommendations that will handcuff those of us who prescribe narcotics in the best interest of our patients.

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