Update 3-24-12:

I have been battling a chest cold and went in to see my primary care doctor who recommended Mucinex.  Most likely he’s been seeing all of those Mucinex commercials that have been regularly playing on t.v. during the cold and flu season.  I double-checked with a physician friend who I still see occasionally even though he’s moved to another state, and he said to avoid taking it as it provides no real benefit in either symptom relief or reducing the duration of the symptoms.   I will post more specific information once I obtain it.


Update 10-12-08:

This from today’s New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Manufacturers of pediatric cough and cold medicines announced Tuesday that they would voluntarily change their products’ labels to say that they should not be used in children under age 4.  In addition, products with certain antihistamines will get new language warning parents not to use them to sedate or make a child sleepy. While many parents believe that getting a sick child to sleep is the best medicine, the use of sedatives is widely discouraged by medical experts, who say they can worsen breathing problems caused by illness.

“We’re trying to prevent as many medication errors as we can, and we think this is the right direction,” said Linda A. Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade organization that represents the makers of over-the-counter medicines.

Officials at the Food and Drug Administration said they supported the changes, but promised to continue a long process to reassess the safety and effectiveness of the products in children of all ages.

Update 11/19/07:

I caught some kind of chest cold over the weekend, and it exacerbated my asthma, so I called my doctor’s office this morning.  The triage nurse recommended I try some Mucinex, which I then told her was contraindicated in patients with chronic cough due to asthma.  I don’t have chronic cough, but I do have asthma, and I told her that my pulmonologist had previously warned me not to take it, as it would not improve my symptoms, and would only make them worse.  She wasn’t aware of this, and was glad to know it.


Update 10/19/07:

According to today’s New York Times:

SILVER SPRING, Md., Oct. 19 — A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted Friday to ban popular over-the-counter cold products intended for children under the age of 6.

Dr. John Jenkins, director of F.D.A.’s off)ice of new drugs, urged parents to read labels. (Photo: Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

The panel found there was no proof that the medicines eased cold symptoms in children, while there are rare reports that they have caused serious harm.

If put into practice, the ban could transform pharmacy shelves and change the way parents cope with the most common illness in young children. The vote comes a week after major manufacturers agreed to withdraw more than a dozen cold products labeled for use in infants and babies.

But manufacturers said they would fight the new recommendations.

“We believe these products will remain on the market,” said Linda Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group.

A forced withdrawal might take years to carry out, top drug agency officials said.

Update 10/11/07:

According to today’s New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 — Major makers of over-the-counter infant cough and cold medicines announced today that they were voluntarily withdrawing their products from the market for fear that they could be misused by parents.

The voluntary withdrawal affects only products labeled for “infants,” not those for use in children 2 and older. And some small companies may continue selling the products.

The move comes two weeks after safety reviewers within the Food and Drug Administration urged the agency to consider an outright ban of over-the-counter cough and cold products for children under the age of 6. Even the industry’s own trade association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, recommended two weeks ago that the products should no longer be used for infants.

Original Post 10/1/07:

According to a New York Times blog, cough and cold medicines aren’t what they’re cracked up to be:

A panel of safety experts at the Food and Drug Administration has proposed banning over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for kids under age 6. There’s growing concern about the health risks and little evidence that the remedies work in young children.

But guess what? Cough medicines usually don’t work for grown-ups, either. The American College of Chest Physicians last year issued new guidelines for treating coughs, and concluded that many popular medications simply don’t quiet coughs caused by the common cold. In particular, the group concluded that the drug guaifenesin — an expectorant found in such popular brands as Robitussin and Mucinex — doesn’t calm coughs due to colds.

Indeed, in a New York Times article last week, an ban may even be considered for individuals under six years of age:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 — Safety experts for the Food and Drug Administration urged the agency on Friday to consider an outright ban on over-the-counter, multisymptom cough and cold medicines for children under 6.

The recommendation, in a 356-page safety review, is the strongest signal yet that the agency may take strong action against the roughly 800 popular medicines marketed in the United States under names like Toddler’s Dimetapp, Triaminic Infant and Little Colds.

When I had bronchitis this past spring, one of my physicians who I trust completely told me that guaifenesin would actually worsen my condition rather than improve it. It doesn’t thin mucus as advertised, but rather makes more of a different kind of mucus, which will only exacerbate chest colds. This physician has even told the company that makes and sells Mucinex to remove from their label the claim that it is appropriate for cough from colds, but to no avail. Well, at least I warned you!


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  • By Shelley, July 6th, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    When I was a kid I had bronchitis all the time. I also had pretty serious asthma. I can tell you that even to this day (I’m 42) Robitussin is a must for me when I get a cold. It really helps to thin mucus so I can breathe better- even with asthma. It really was a constant staple of my pulmonary illness ridden childhood, and I believe it was part of why I never developed pneumonia.

  • By Bob, June 18th, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I couldn’t disagree more. When I have a chest cold, mucinex is a necessity. It DOES loosen up tight mucous and makes it far easier and less painful for me to cough up and/or expectorate. I’ve used it now for over 5 years.

  • By Kathy, November 21st, 2013 at 7:33 am

    I have bronchitis with some minor head congestion. I also have asthma. It is going on two weeks tomorrow. I have tried everything for relief. I started taking Mucinex at the recommendation of the urgent care around day 7. By day 11, I was still feeling awful so I quit taking it and on day 8, I felt markedly better. Day 9 I took a dose at night before bed and day 10 had a relapse. I didn’t take it yesterday and feel much better this morning so I can only assume that the Mucinex is the culprit. Sure wish I knew why.

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