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Toddler cough syrups pulled from shelves

Other remedies to be repackaged

A child bites on a thermometer.

Cough and cold remedies for children are being pulled from shelves amid fears that under-twos could get an an accidental overdose.

The UK’s medicines watchdog has also ordered that six medicines specifically marketed for use by under-twos be removed from open sale.

The affected products are:

  • Asda Children’s Chesty Cough Syrup
  • Boots Chesty Cough Syrup One Year Plus
  • Boots Sore Throat and Cough Linctus One Year Plus
  • Buttercup Infant Cough Syrup
  • CalCough Chesty
  • Bell’s Children’s Chesty Cough.

They will now be available only if supplied by a pharmacist, and are only to be used by older children.


The Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has ordered that around 100 other remedies are taken off the shelves and repackaged to include advice that they should not be given to children aged under two.

Until they’re repackaged, the medicines will be kept behind pharmacy counters and anyone who asks to buy them will be questioned about the age of the child who is ill.

If the child is older than two, the product can be sold and the pharmacist will provide an advice leaflet.

There’s nothing wrong with the medicines. It’s the way they were given

MHRA spokeswoman Sara Coakley said: ‘It’s a precautionary measure. They are not dangerous.

‘If they had been dangerous, we’d have had them off the market in seconds. Nobody should panic. There’s nothing wrong with these medicines it was the way that they had been given.’

Overdose risk

She said the remedies could be dangerous if people gave their child more than the recommended dose or gave them more than one product at the same time.

‘Children under two are particularly susceptible because of their small size so can be at risk of overdose. We are saying don’t give it to under-twos.’

Miss Coakley said products aimed at children aged two and above will be returned to shelves once they have been repackaged to include the new advice that they should not be given to young children. This is expected to happen by October.


The MHRA says that any child suffering from a cold should be treated with paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower their temperature, and if they have a cough they can be given a simple cough syrup, such as glycerol, honey or lemon. 

For young babies who are having difficulty feeding, nasal saline drops can help clear a stuffed-up nose. Vapour rubs and inhalant decongestants, which you can put on a child’s clothes, can also help.

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