Lawsuit blames infant's death on OTC cough, cold products

November 20, 2007

Mother sues drugmakers over son's cold medication death

An Illinois woman who found her son dead in his crib is suing two drugmakers, claiming their failure to warn consumers about the dangers of OTC cough and cold products contributed to his death. Filed last week in Lake County Circuit Court, the lawsuit accuses the Walgreen Co. and McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, of misleading parents about the safety of children's cough and cold medicines, specifically those that contain dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dimitria Alvarez of Bloomington, Ill., who gave her four-month-old son Infant Tylenol Cold Decongestant Plus Cough and Walgreen-brand Pediatric Drops-Cough Plus Cold. Both medications contain dextromethorphan. Alvarez's son died from dextromethorphan intoxication; tests revealed he metabolized the ingredient slowly, leading to a lethal buildup. Alvarez's lawsuit states that neither drugmaker warned consumers about the dangers of dextromethorphan and marketed the OTC products as safe for children. Walgreens, however, released a statement contending the products' labeling was in compliance with FDA standards and included use restrictions. "Walgreens was one of the first retailers to voluntarily remove these