Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Calpol and the medicalisation of our woes

The Telegraph reports that parents will be asked to reduce the amount of Calpol – liquid paracetamol – they give to very young children. Wheareas guidelines used to group children in wide bands like "age 1-6", more bands will be introduced to recognise the differences weight between children throughout this spectrum.

But while the Telegraph’s medical correspondent Stephen Adams suggested we have a "fever-phobia" in regard to our children, I’d like you to look again at how Calpol recently marketed a children’s painkiller:

The writing at the bottom of the screen said that Calprofen was for "relief of pain and fever", but the story – the part that a busy, stressed Mum will be taking in – is that this can be administered when playtime goes south: two kids have a sheet fall on their head and end up unhappy. Guess what revives them?

a medicine for every woe?The masses addicted to illegal drugs have a mirror image in a less noticeable addiction: to the idea that there is a pharmaceutical product for every woe. Don’t get me wrong – some kids are genuinely hyperactive through attention deficit and are helped by Ritalin; many people get through the day with the help of antidepressants; and occasionally somebody in an old-folks’ home is responding to hallucinations and will be helped by antipsychotic drugs.

Equally, however, no pill eradicates the harm done by indifferent schools or parents, makes up for a society where lonely people are left to get on with it, or mitigates the negligence without which a care-system with too few indians cannot work.

The new guidelines for Calpol are welcome; but the wider issue is that what is lacking is not labelling information but a society in which we all engage with and care for each other. And the remedy for that doesn’t come in bottles or blister-packs.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

1 comment:

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