May 9, 2011: Why will I have to update my powerpoint presentations on acetaminophen?

On May 4, 2011, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association announced that the makers of over-the-counter, single ingredient liquid acetaminophen will discontinue selling the concentrated infant drops. Liquid acetaminophen products are currently available in two concentrations: infant drops at 80mg/0.8 mL and elixir 160 mg/5mL.  Confusion arises when families do not understand that these are different concentrations and are not interchangeable. In addition, the updated products designed for infants are supposed to have syringes for more accurate dosing and flow restrictors while the typical elixir product for children ages 2-12 will continue to provide the dosing cups.

The change is supposed to occur sometime this year; however, there may be a time when both infant acetaminophen concentrations are available on the market concurrently. This possibility emphasizes the importance of clarifying with a family which concentration they are using before dosing recommendations are made, since both products will be targeted to families with infants. Families who have previously used the concentrated infant drops also may not know that there has been a change in the concentration. Thus there may be confusion when the label reads different than before (assuming the label is even read).

These changes don’t apply to other multiple ingredient liquid medicines (e.g. cough and cold meds) that are targeted towards pediatric patients.

 Hopefully, the transition will be seamless and the retailers will remove the concentrated infant drops off the shelves when the new concentration is available for marketing.  And if you believe that, I have some swamp land for you……


This question prepared by: Saralyn Williams, MD  Medical Toxicologist



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