Reading the Box: Product Information

Cough Medicine

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration made sweeping changes to the children’s cold and cough medicine aisle. Cough and cold medicines are not effective in children and can be unsafe. Products for children under 2 years of age were removed and other products were labeled not for use in children less than 4 years of age. See the FDA information for parents here.

The product shown here, sold as a dietary supplement, claims to treat cough in children over 12 months of age. The FDA letter to Zarbee’s regarding their violations and deficiencies is here.

This company’s product contains zinc and grapefruit extract, ingredients without much effect on cough. It also includes honey which worked better than placebo in a recent study.

More on why cough medicines don’t really work is here.

See a previous post on cough and cold medicine ingredients here.

Is there a product or claim you’re curious about?

About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at,, and She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit
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