Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers: Kids Under 12 Shouldn’t be Prescribed Codeine or Tramadol
May 20, 2017
Some important news for parents: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially added codeine and tramadol to its list of “contraindicated” medications for kids under 12-years-old. Both medications have been used in the past to treat pain and a cough in children under 12, but because they carry the risk of respiratory depression, complications and even death, the FDA has issued a nationwide restriction.
The most serious warning that the FDA can issue for a drug is contraindication. A statement discloses how some kids have died as a result of codeine or tramadol. Children under 12 are more prone to experiencing complications, such as difficulty or slowed breathing, because they break down the medications faster than adults do. When the body breaks down a drug more quickly, rapidly metabolizing it, it actually allows for higher doses of it in the system. As a result, children are more likely to suffer an overdose.
Symptoms of an overdose of codeine or tramadol can include cold and clammy skin, shallow breathing, narrowed pupils, coma, confusion, loss of consciousness, and more. For kids under 12, these symptoms can present even more quickly than they do in adults.
Tramadol and codeine are both opiate painkillers; codeine is an opioid and tramadol an opiate analgesic. Analgesics attach to the brain’s nerve receptors in order to reduce a person’s perception of pain. Opioids bind to the body’s opioid receptors, which can be located in the brain, digestive tract or spine. Both kinds of medications are used to treat pain at different levels.
Because health professionals cannot determine which children are more likely to metabolize the medications rapidly, any and all use of them is contraindicated to protect them from consequences as severe as death. And this isn’t the first time that the FDA has warned providers and parents of the dangers. Starting in 2013, the FDA listed codeine as contraindicated for use in teens up to 18 years of age.
For kids between 12 and 18, the FDA advises providers to never prescribe tramadol or codeine if they have obstructive sleep apnea, any type of serious lung disease or are obese. Breastfeeding moms are warned against taking both medications as well, since tramadol and codeine can obviously harm infants.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) along with the FDA has released official statements to advise against using both medications in children. Instead, the AAP urges providers to use safer alternatives, like FDA-approved prescription medications or over-the-counter treatments for children under 12 who are experiencing pain, cough or cold.
It is important for doctors and parents to be careful when it comes to giving medications to kids. Already are children more susceptible to being accidentally overdosed with cough and cold medications because of unclear labeling, as earlier studies have reported. Codeine and tramadol are both more potent than cough and cold medications, with serious attributable risks and side effects including diarrhea, vomiting, anxiety, flushing, constipation, nausea, headache, sedation, stomach pain and more.
Sadly, some children throughout the United States suffered lethal consequences from being prescribed codeine or tramadol, and many others have gotten sick from ingesting either drug. In lieu of the FDA’s statement and contraindication of tramadol and codeine, healthcare professionals should immediately discontinue prescribing both medications as pain treatment for kids under 12 altogether, as well as for 12-18-year-olds with certain risk factors.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Help Families Obtain Compensation
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a dangerous drug or medical device, please call the knowledgeable Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.