Day: October 20, 2007

child, children, families, family, healing, love, medical, medication, safety
Government Advisers: Don’t Use Cold Medicines in Children Under 6

FDA Says Over-the-Counter Med Need Further Study

Cold medicine

Concentrated Tylenol Infants’ Drops Plus Cold & Cough, right, and Pedia Care Infant Drops Long-Acting Cough, left, is shown in a medicine cabinet of the home of Carol Uyeno in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007. Cold Drug makers voluntarily pulled cold medicines targeted for babies and toddlers off the market Thursday, leaving parents to find alternatives for hacking coughs and runny little noses just as fall sniffles get in full swing. The move 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.  (Paul Sakuma/AP Photo)

WASHINGTON – Cold and cough medicines don’t work in children and shouldn’t be used in those younger than 6, federal health advisers recommended Friday.

Video

No More Kids Cold Medicine

The over-the-counter medicines should be studied further, even after decades in which children have received billions of doses a year, the outside experts told the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA isn’t required to follow the advice of its panels of outside experts but does so most of the time.

“The data that we have now is they don’t seem to work,” said Sean Hennessy, a University of Pennsylvania epidemiologist, one of the FDA experts gathered to examine the medicines sold to treat common cold symptoms. The recommendation applies to medicines containing one or more of the following ingredients: decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines and antitussives.

The nonbinding recommendation is likely to lead to a shake up in how the medicines – which have long escaped much scrutiny – are labeled, marketed and used. Just how and how quickly wasn’t immediately clear.

In two separate votes, the panelists said the medicines shouldn’t be used in children younger than 2 or in those younger than 6. A third vote, to recommend against use in children 6 to 11, failed.

Earlier, the panelists voted unanimously to recommend the medicines be studied in children to determine whether they work. That recommendation would require the FDA to undertake a rule-making process to reclassify the medicines, since the ingredients they include are now generally recognized as safe and effective, which doesn’t require testing. The process could take years, even before any studies themselves get under way.

Simply relabeling the medicines to state they shouldn’t be used in some age groups could be accomplished more quickly, FDA officials said.

Indeed, the drug industry could further revise the labels on the medicines to caution against such use. The Thursday-Friday meeting came just a week after the industry pre-emptively moved to eliminate sales of the nonprescription drugs targeted at children under 2.

Government Advisers: Don’t Use Cold Medicines in Children Under 6

adoption, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, children, cps, families, family, foster care, government, healing, love, medicaid fraud, psychiatry, psychotropic medications, safety, system failure, texas
Child agency touts progress

Foster kid adoption rate has improved in S.A. region, but much wor

Web Posted: 10/03/2007 12:00 AM CDT

Nancy Martinez
Express-News Child Protective Services has in the past 21/2 years seen a higher turnover among caseworkers, taken on more cases, removed more children that it can place and seen a large gap in the number of black children in the system versus those in the community. Still, the state agency charged with keeping children safe sees itself as an improved department in the throes of heeding reforms required by the Legislature in 2005. That’s what about 75 child advocates who gathered Tuesday at a semi-annual child advocate meeting heard from CPS officials.

“We’re making a lot of progress. We’re a different agency than we were before the reforms,” Sherry Gomez, the San Antonio region CPS director, told the audience of foster care workers, community organizations, law enforcement officials and political leaders. “But it’s going to take awhile to transition.”

But Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, who publicly criticized CPS this year for not following new state laws aimed at protecting young children by requiring that a specialist review their cases, reached a different conclusion.

“I don’t see the kind of improvement we need in the agency,” Uresti said during a phone interview Tuesday. “Status quo is not enough.”

At the meeting, held at the University of the Incarnate Word with the theme “The Dawn of a New Day,” CPS officials spoke about what the department is doing right and characterized its weaknesses — turnover is the worst it’s ever been and there are more cases than ever — as “growing pains.”

“CPS is a constant challenge. The system is overburdened, and we always need more reserves,” said Arabia Vargas, chairwoman of the Bexar County Child Welfare Board.

Still, there were marked improvements since the passage of Senate Bill 6, which required expansive reforms in virtually every aspect of policy, practice and performance for the beleaguered agency.

CPS touted its high foster child adoption rate: In fiscal 2007, 974 children in the San Antonio region were adopted, mostly by relatives. Last year, the region led the state with 651 adoptions, a vast improvement from the 316 in fiscal year 2004 and up from 625 in 2005.

Also discussed were the “taking it to the streets” efforts, in which caseworkers became decentralized, working across the city, and CPS’ “family team meeting” efforts, in which extended family members work with CPS to craft a safety plan for children.

Local CPS developments are reflective of what is happening across the state.

On Sept. 1, in its fourth 180-day progress report, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the umbrella agency over CPS, reported to lawmakers that the department is becoming more accountable and working on its shortcomings.

According to CPS, caseloads are also down for most caseworkers — from 27 average cases per day last year for San Antonio region caseworkers to 21 per day in fiscal year 2007, which ended Aug. 31. Statewide, the caseload decreased from 26 per day last year to 20 per day in 2007, according to CPS.

But one of the department’s biggest challenges this past year has been placing foster children.

Since April, 44 children in the San Antonio region have slept in CPS offices because there was nowhere else for them to stay.

CPS officials say finding placements is a daily struggle because the rate at which children are being removed is greatly outpacing the rate at which foster parents will take them.

CPS officials said the department is also striving to fix a problem of disproportional removals. Across the state and in San Antonio, more black children are taken from their parents. In the San Antonio region, 6 percent of children are black, but 15 percent of those in foster care are black, CPS reported.

Training new staff has become a significant challenge, especially because caseworker turnover is getting worse.

Despite the reforms, children are still dying of child abuse and neglect at an unprecedented rate.

In fiscal year 2006, CPS identified 14 children who died of child abuse and neglect, the second-highest number since the department began keeping track.

Death numbers for fiscal year 2007 are not yet available.

“The report reflects the status quo,” Uresti said. “We need to continue to monitor this on a monthly basis and not let up on our primary goal of protecting our children.”


nmartinez@express-news.net