Claim: The interaction of Motrin and Robitussin can cause heart attacks in children.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, February 2009]
Madison, age 8, passed away just a few days ago. We’ve been asked to pass this on. Doctors told her family that there have been quite a few children Madison’s age that have died recently the same way that she did. The only common link between them was that they were given Motrin (ibuprofen) and Robitussin together, this caused a heart attack.
They believe this is what happened to them. They told her to alert everyone to this. Do not give children both of these medicines together. You can give them one or the other but not both.
When Madison collapsed she suffered a heart attack and they were able to revive her but the loss of oxygen damaged her brain and she was put on the respirator.
After this she had four strokes before she died after being taken off the respirator. Please pass this on.
Origins: We received this admonition not to combine Motrin with Robitussin in December 2008. The story the warning is framed upon, that an eight-year-old girl named Madison died from a heart attack and strokes brought about by this combination of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs,
is unverifiable for now: the account provides no information as to Madison’s surname, where she lived, who her doctors were, where she was treated, or even the date she died. Absent any of that information, trying to determine if there actually was such a child is a nearly impossible task.
It is possible that a child can have a heart attack. For example, a news report of
The active ingredient in Children’s Motrin is Ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug effective in relieving pain and reducing inflammation. (Ibuprofen is also marketed under several other brand names, such as Advil, Medipren, and Nuprin.) Children’s Motrin Suspension first became available as a prescription product in 1989, and in 1995 it was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marketing as an over-the-counter product. Both those landmarks occurred only after the product had been extensively tested on children:
Before Children’s Motrin became an over-the-counter product, its safety profile was supported by a landmark study involving nearly 84,000 children — one of the largest and most rigorous children’s clinical studies ever conducted. The study spanned
Robitussin Pediatric Cough is a syrup that contains Dextromethorphan HBr, a cough suppressant. Its Pediatric
We have not yet turned up any studies confirming heart attacks brought about by the combination of these two over-the-counter medications, either in children or adults, but that is not to say children should be taking OTC cold medications. An
The FDA offers these medication tips to the parents and caregivers of small children:
In 2003, another personal account circulated by
- A March 2009 version of the
- Another March 2009 version asserted “This happened locally to someone in Houma.”
- An April 2009 version bore the sigblock of Lisa Lopez of the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. While there was a Lisa Lopez with that facility, she was not the writer of the
If you’ve seen a Facebook post about Motrin and Robitussin, please read and share this. The information in the post is not correct and was not posted by one of our employees. We encourage caregivers to discuss any over-the-counter medications with their doctor and to ask about information found on the Internet.
Barbara “over-the-counter recounter” Mikkelson
Last updated: 22 December 2014