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Originally published June 6 2008

Walgreens Sued Over Infant Death Due to Cold Medicine (Correction)

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Walgreens and the parent company of Tylenol are being sued by an Illinois woman whose infant son died after being given two separate medicines marketed by those companies for use on children.

"This may be the first case against manufacturers of infant cold and cough medicines with dextromethorphan," said Ralph Davis, attorney for the plaintiff.

Dimitria Alvarez alleges that Walgreen Co. and McNeil-PPC Inc., owned by Johnson & Johnson, should have known of the dangers of the cough suppressant dextromethorphan; that slow metabolism could lead to toxic buildup of the chemical; that there had been deaths associated with the ingredient's use in children: and that its effectiveness on children had never been tested.

An FDA advisory panel recently recommended that the agency ban the marketing of cold medications to children under the age of 6, and Walgreens voluntarily removed such medications from the market in response on October 11. (McNeil removed such medications for children under the age of 2.)

This had not yet occurred when Alvarez' 4-month-old son Devon Mehlberg-Alvarez began sniffling and coughing on October 4. According to Davis, Alvarez gave her child Infant Tylenol Cold and Decongestant Plus and Walgreen Pediatric Drops-Cough Plus Cold.

On October 8, Alvarez found her son dead in his crib. A coroner's report concluded that he died from dextromethorphan intoxication.

According to Davis, Alvarez initially believed that it was something unique to her son's metabolism that had caused the cold medicine to be fatal to him. It was only after she learned of the FDA panel's recommendations and that other such deaths had been reported that she decided the drug companies were responsible.

In response to the lawsuit, Walgreens spokesperson Carol Hiveley suggested that Alvarez might have inappropriately given her son both medications at the same time. But Davis refuted this charge, saying that the medications were given consecutively over the course of several days, and that the indicated doses were followed.

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