With some child deaths recently from "overdoses" of a component found in many cough and cold medicines, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is likely to scrutinize and change things in the pharmaceutical industry as a result. Although cold medicines are used millions of times each year by parents without incident, brands like Wyeth's (NYSE: WYE) Dimetapp and Robitussin and Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ) Pediacare are being looked at pretty harshly in light of recent problems.
A two-day meeting that concludes today will determine if the over-the-counter cold remedies are indeed safe for young children -- or if they should be sold under some kind of new rule. Although the drug industry says that these medicines are used 3.8 billion times per year with children, accidental overdoses of late that have claimed the lives of some children, and those parents need more education on the proper use of these products.
So, again, we have an industry product that works fine when used exactly as directed. It's when parents go outside those rules that problems develop. Physicians and pediatricians want more restrictions on how these items are marketed to parents, which means advertising changes could be coming. For example, that television ad showing Robitussin being given to a four-year-old as he peacefully falls asleep may be eradicated from the airwaves soon.
The FDA took the issue further as of yesterday, stating that it was told by the doctors attending the two-day panel that over-the-counter cold medicines shouldn't be given to children younger than 6. Regardless, the relevant product categories of pharmaceutical companies selling these products could experience a negative dip in sales soon, and based on findings reached at the end of today's session, it could be a permanent dip.