By JUDITH GRAHAM and DUAA ELDEIB
CHICAGO — Anxious parents are preparing to call doctors Monday morning and scouring the Internet for information after an enormous recall of over-the-counter medications for infants and children that was announced Friday.
The recall affects all unexpired lots of liquid Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl formulated for youngsters — more than 43 products. Parents rely on the medications to ease their children's aches and pains, fevers and allergy-associated runny noses and sneezes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised families to stop using the products, noting some may contain “tiny particles” while others have too many active ingredients or inactive ingredients that don't meet specifications. McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the manufacturer, and federal officials said the prospect of serious medical problems is “remote.”
McNeil did little to calm parents' fears with a hotline (888-222-6036) that featured a verbal rendition of the company's press release on Sunday. That release, including a list of all affected products and their lot numbers, is available at www.mcneilproductrecall.com. McNeil is a unit of Johnson & Johnson.
Still, some parents said they were impressed by the company's prompt action. “If it's something that's being disclosed from the start, I think I should stick with them,” said Leonardo Valenca, visiting Chicago with his wife and twin 7-month daughters. “It's different than the way Toyota handled (their recall).”
Families should feel comfortable using generic versions of the drugs, said Dr. Saul Weiner, an associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center.
The generic version of Tylenol is acetaminophen; for Motrin, ibuprofen; for Zyrtec, cetirizine; and for Benadryl, diphenhydramine.
It's wiser to switch to a generic than to stop a medication for your child altogether, Weiner said.