Non-medicinal options advised to soothe teething babies
Products containing lidocaine used for teething in babies and children will only be available over the counter in pharmacies from next year.
A review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) concluded such medicines should only be used when non-medicinal options – such as rubbing or massaging the gums or using a teething ring – do not provide relief.
It found a lack of evidence of any benefit to using products containing lidocaine for teething before the non-medicinal options.
The review was prompted by a warning issued by the US Food and Drug Administration, which found a lidocaine solution used as a pain reliever on teething babies’ gums could cause deaths and serious injuries.
However, lidocaine was used in far higher concentrations than in any products available in the UK.
An MHRA spokeswoman said teething is a natural process and gels containing lidocaine should only be used as a second line of treatment after discussion with and the guidance of a healthcare professional.
The body said pharmacists are best placed to provide guidance and support when babies and children are teething, or if there are concerns about their health.
Dr Sarah Branch, deputy director of MHRA’s vigilance and risk management of medicines 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.”
Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 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.”