Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's October recommendation that children ages 2 to 6 should not use cough and cold medicines, and the ruling that those medicines for children under the age of 2 must be pulled from shelves, alternative remedies are on the way, sources said.
“We have seen more salt-water nasal sprays, and doctors recommending the use of humidifiers and alternative therapies,” Michele Snider, director of pharmacy for Save Mart Supermarkets, Modesto, Calif., told SN.
Manufacturer Lifemel USA, Torrance, Calif., released information from a recent article in the Archives of Pediatric Medicine that reported on the effectiveness of honey as a cough suppressant. Honey was found to work consistently better than dextromethorphan, the product usually used in cough medicine, and also better than “no treatment,” according to Lifemel.
One popular cold-fighting herbal supplement, Airborne, from Airborne Health in Bonita Springs, Fla., however, agreed to pay $23.3 million this month to settle a class-action lawsuit. The suit was led by a nonprofit advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, that said the product's labels and ads falsely claimed that the product cures and prevents colds.
Airborne denied any wrongdoing. “We have tens of thousands of satisfied customers who buy Airborne again and again,” a spokesman was quoted as saying.
Airborne products include “Power Pixies,” an artificially sweetened powdered version for children; Airborne Seasonal, which is described as a “non-drowsy formula containing a nutritional blend which promotes normal histamine levels”; Airborne On-the-Go; and Airborne Nighttime.
“There's no credible evidence that what's in Airborne can prevent colds or protect you from a germy environment,” said CSPI senior nutritionist David Schardt, who reviewed Airborne's claims. “Airborne is basically an overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill that's been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed.”
Airborne promised to “boost your immune system to help your body combat germs” and instructed users to “take it at the first sign of a cold symptom or before entering crowded, potentially germ-infested environments.”
But in February 2006, ABC News revealed on “Good Morning America” that Airborne's only clinical trial was actually conducted without any doctors or scientists. Soon after the plaintiff notified Airborne of intent to file suit in March 2006, the company stopped mentioning the study and began toning down the overt cold-curing claims in favor of “immunity boosting” language.
Airborne Health will pay for ads in Better Homes & Gardens, Parade, People, Newsweek and other magazines and newspapers, instructing consumers how to get refunds.