US federal health officials warned parents and doctors not to give drugs that contain promethazine hydrochloride to children younger than two, citing seven cases of death linked to use of the antihistamine in 2006.
The Food and Drug Administration said in a safety alert that beyond the deaths, it also has received
22 reports of severe breathing problems associated with use of the allergy drug, all in children younger than two.
The drug, also known as promethazine HCl, is sold by Wyeth under the brand name Phenergan, as well as in various generic versions. The warning covers all forms of the drug, including syrups, suppositories, tablets and injectable liquids.
In our country, this drug is manufactured and marketed by many pharmaceuticals, and is commonly prescribed for the children to control allergies and coughs.
Though it seems to be a time tested drug, the FDA states it should not be given to babies or children under two years old, and should be given with caution to children ages two and above. The labels on all versions of the drug have
been updated by FDA in 2006 to reflect the strengthened warnings.
The drug, approved in 1951, is used to treat hay fever and stuffy or runny noses caused by allergies.
Writer, Dr Abdullah Shahriar is a child specialist