Parents and caregivers are being advised that products containing lidocaine used for teething in babies and children will be sold only in pharmacies from 2019.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) advised that 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.

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 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.”

Resources available for healthcare professionals via MHRA’s Drug Safety Update publication

Parents of infants and young children should not use unlicensed homeopathic teething tablets or gels which are available to buy online due to the risk of side effects, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said today.

This advice follows a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into homeopathic teething tablets and gels which could cause serious side effects such as seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation.

These particular products are made and supplied by manufacturers in the USA and are not licensed for use in the UK and are not known to be available in UK outlets. However the unlicensed products may be advertised on online shopping or pharmacy websites.