Teething gels for babies and children to be sold in pharmacies only

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Pharmacists are best placed to provide guidance and support when babies and children are teething or if there are concerns about babies’ health, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said today.

These medicines should only be used when non-medicinal options do not provide necessary relief. This advice follows a review which also recommended that the administration instructions and safety warnings should be updated.

The MHRA review concluded there is a lack of evidence of benefit to using products containing lidocaine for teething before non-medicinal options. Our evidence of any risk associated with these products is very small given the wide usage of these medicines. A pharmacist or healthcare professional can provide appropriate guidance.

Teething is a natural process and lidocaine containing teething products such as teething gels should only be used as a second line of treatment after discussion with and guidance of a healthcare professional.

Dr Sarah Branch, Deputy Director of MHRA’s Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines (VRMM) Division said:

Our review showed there is a lack of evidence of benefit to using teething gels. To help babies and children with teething, parents and caregivers should try non-medicine options such as rubbing or massaging the gums or a teething ring.

We want to make sure you get the right information about teething. If your child continues to have problems with teething, talk to your pharmacist or healthcare professional about the best options.

If you suspect that your child has experienced a side effect to a medicine, please report this to us through our Yellow Card Scheme.

President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Ash Soni said:

It’s natural for parents to be concerned if their baby is experiencing discomfort with sore gums when teething. Your local pharmacist can provide parents and caregivers of teething babies with expert advice and recommend the best course of treatment. Your pharmacist is always a good first port of call for any common condition your child develops.

It’s advised that you give a teething baby something to chew on like a teething ring that’s been in the fridge but, if that isn’t enough, then your pharmacist can give you expert advice about using a teething product containing lidocaine and how to use it safely.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said:

Teething is a normal process, alongside some resultant pain, however this can prove distressing for the baby and its parents. Parents should talk to their health visitors if they are concerned that their baby is overly distressed, but their first action should be to offer the baby a cold teething ring, or similar, to bite on to relieve their discomfort and/or to massage the baby’s gums with a clean finger. If this isn’t effective and the baby is persistently distressed, then they can speak to a pharmacist who may feel that it’s appropriate to offer a pharmaceutical treatment.

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