LONDON, February 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Responding to guidance issued today by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), advising that cough and cold treatments should not be used for children under 6 years of age, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has issued the following advice to parents.

RPSGB's Director of Policy, David Pruce, says:

In view of the MHRA's new guidance, the RPSGB considers it good practice to restrict the use of some over-the-counter (OTC) products for the treatment of cough and cold symptoms in children under 6 years of age.

For children under 6 who have uncomplicated coughs and colds, the following medicines are suitable for use:

- Paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain and lower temperature;

- Simple non-pharmacological cough mixtures for the treatment of coughs (for example paediatric simple linctus or those containing glycerol or honey and lemon);

- Vapour rubs and inhalant decongestants which can be applied to children's clothing to provide relief of stuffy or blocked nose for children and infants over 3 months. Saline (Sodium Chloride 0.9%) nose drops can be helpful particularly in infants who are having difficulty feeding.

Further research is required on how effective OTC medicines are for coughs and colds in children over 6 years. Parents with young children experiencing a cough or cold should seek the advice of their community pharmacist about the best treatment to relieve symptoms, said David Pruce.

It is important to emphasise that these products have been used safely for many years. However, having reviewed all the available evidence, experts now recommend that the lack of robust evidence of their effectiveness in young children and the small risk of adverse effects means that we no longer recommend their use in children under 6.

Children between 6 and 12 years old are less likely to suffer from adverse effects of these medicines. Further clinical trials being conducted now will clarify how effective these medicines are in this age group. In the mean time, parents should seek the advice of their pharmacist. Pharmacists are experts in medicines and are well placed in the heart of communities to offer advice to members of the public who may have concerns about safe treatments for children.

Notes to editors

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain is the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. It also regulates pharmacy technicians on a voluntary basis, which is expected to become statutory under anticipated legislation.

The primary objectives of the RPSGB are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy. The RPSGB leads and supports the development of the profession within the context of the public benefit. This includes the advancement of science, practice, education and knowledge in pharmacy. In addition, it promotes the profession's policies and views to a range of external stakeholders in a number of different forums.

Following the publication in 2007 of the Government White Paper Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century, the RPSGB is working towards the demerger of its regulatory and professional roles. This will see the establishment of a new General Pharmaceutical Council and a new professional body for pharmacy in 2010.

For further information about the RPSGB visit

For media enquiries please contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit +44(0)20-7572-2627 or +44(0)7792-109834 for out of hours

For media enquiries please contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit +44(0)20-7572-2627 or +44(0)7792-109834 for out of hours