Shannon Bjorkman has been using children’s Tylenol for her daughter Hannah since she was born 11 months ago. Now, as Hannah’s teeth begin to come in, and she needs it most, Bjorkman is at a loss. Last week, more than 40 varieties of children’s medicine, including Children’s Tylenol and Motrin, were voluntarily recalled.
Shannon Bjorkman has been using children’s Tylenol for her daughter Hannah since she was born 11 months ago. Now, as Hannah’s teeth begin to come in, and she needs it most, the Braintree mother is at a loss.
“The two bottles I bought months ago are almost gone, and I don’t know what to do,” Bjorkman said Thursday from the aisles of Babies R Us.
Bjorkman has company, as parents nationwide are worried and confused by the recent voluntary recall of more than 40 varieties of children’s and infants’ Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl and other medicines made by Johnson & Johnson.
The company made the recall after the Food and Drug Administration, which received 46 complaints of strange specks in Tylenol products, detected a potentially dangerous bacteria – Burkholderia cepacia – in ingredients used in liquid remedies.
While the federal agency and some doctors believe that the likelihood the medicines will cause serious illness is slim, they’re encouraging parents not to use them, as a precaution. Instead, they are suggesting parents try generic brands instead.
“I haven’t seen anything that’s made me believe there’s a real threat to kids,” said Carrie Jones, a pediatrician at Quincy Pediatrics. “Tylenol has been around forever, so we recommend it readily, but the generic brands have the same active ingredient and work just as effectively.”
Bjorkman, though, is skeptical that would make a difference. She’s been asking her pediatrician what to do, given all the confusion.
“I’m not sure about generic brands,” she said. “I worry ... because they are made the same way as the regular brands.”
The recent recall comes three years after a Food and Drug Administration panel recommended that children younger than 2 not take decongestants and those younger than 6 avoid antihistamines – in line with American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations – though stopping short of calling for a full-fledged ban.
Even so, this month’s recall has reaffirmed some parents’ decision not to give medicine – especially the over-the-counter variety – to their kids.
“It doesn’t seem like they do enough research on medicine before they put it on the market,” said expectant mother Carolyn Roust. “I would feel really betrayed by the system if I decided to trust it, and all of a sudden it was recalled, especially for children because they are so sensitive.”
Roust, and her partner Avi Benavi, are both originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands, but have recently moved to Massachusetts ahead of the birth of their first child.
“I don’t like medicine because it’s not natural and because you never know what it does to your child,” Benavi said.
Patriot Ledger writer Katy Fitzpatrick may be reached at email@example.com.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
A federal probe was launched after 46 complaints were made in the last year about “black or dark specks” in Tylenol products. The Food and Drug Administration found that bacteria had contaminated ingredients used in more than 40 types of cold and other medications from Johnson & Johnson. The agency also reported more than 20 manufacturing problems at the Pennsylvania plant where the formulas were made. Tests did not find contaminants in any of the finished products, and there were no reports that anyone got sick.
Johnson & Johnson initiated a voluntary recall after the Food and Drug Administration released its report last Friday.
What’s being recalled
The recall involves over-the-counter children’s and infants’ liquid medicines from Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare, including:
Tylenol Infants’ Drops
Children’s Motrin Cold
Motrin Infants’ Drops
Is there a direct health threat?
Not necessarily. The Food and Drug Administration said serious medical complications are unlikely. Still, the agency did advise people to stop taking the medicines.
What you can you do
You can request a refund or get a coupon online. Or you can call 888-222-6036. Products cannot necessarily be returned to stores for a refund. People can also get more information from the Food and Drug Administration at fda.gov/medwatch.