Calpol and Nurofen on the McCann Holiday…..

calpolAnd the speculation.

There has been much written on forums and blogs about Calpol, Calpol Night and the McCanns are constantly accused of sedating their children.  Again there is no proof in the files that they or any other member of their holiday group sedated any of their children.

In part of Gerry McCanns arguido statement of the 7th September 2007 when he was questioned by the Portuguese Police at Portimao Police station, he explains to the officers the exact medicines that they as a family took to Portugal.  For any parent who travels abroad with young children it is quite common practice and definitely not a crime. Gerry McCann states in his interview:

When they travelled on holiday to Portugal they brought several medicines, namely Calpol, Nurofen, for fevers and pains, both for adults and children, Losec for gastric problems that he occasionally suffers from, and an anti-histamine called Terfenadine, for hay fever. He did not give any of these medicines or any others to the children while on holiday in Portugal.

So with regards to the children he said he never gave them any medication during their holiday. On forums and blogs people still insist the McCanns were sedating their children with Calpol and even in the book written by Goncalo Amaral he states this:

It is only three months later that Kate speaks about this possibility, suggesting that the police proceed with these tests. The National Institute of Forensic Medicine let’s us know that before proceeding with this screening, they would need to know what type of sedative they were looking for. There are hundreds of them on the market. While the grandfather stated on television that Kate gave Calpol to the children to get them to sleep, several months have gone by since May 3rd. Kate, who is a doctor, must be aware that the time for obtaining convincing results has largely passed.

So what about these medicines that Gerry mentioned, well Calpol and Nurofen are regularly given to children, and as the twins were only 2 years old I suspect these were taken as a precaution as there they still could have been teething and cutting their back teeth, which ultimately can lead to children having earache and a temperature.

But I found an interesting article dated 2005, 2 years before the McCanns went to Portugal, the article is from the Telegraph in which it states this:

Terence Stephenson, professor of child health at Nottingham University, believes their use by parents may be misguided.

“Paracetamol doesn’t have any sedative properties whatsoever and neither does Nurofen,” he says. “It’s a widespread misconception that Calpol helps children to sleep. Doctors used to prescribe antihistamines to help children sleep, but not any longer.”

Although these products may not be as effective as soporifics as parents might hope, Prof Stephenson doesn’t believe that they are in any way harmful. The two main theoretical risks – that they may mask the symptoms of a more serious medical problem, and the possibility of overdose – are, he believes, slight. “Most parents are assiduous and careful observers of their child. They would be careful to note if they were deteriorating or had developed a rash. There are very few examples of children being overdosed by over-the-counter remedies.”

The dosage for children aged one to six is one to two 5ml spoonfuls of the Calpol suspension up to four times a day. For three to 12-month-old babies, it is one to two 2.5ml spoonfuls. A 5ml dose contains 120mg of paracetamol, compared with 500mg per tablet in adult Panadol.

“I’ve never seen an overdose of Calpol,” says Dr Wayne Lenney, a consultant paediatrician. “The only liquid overdoses in children occur when teenagers drink too much alcohol.”

Then we have the other medicines well one of them was Terfenadine (which is a non-sedative antihistamine) which  is now only available on prescription and also Losec (Indegestion and heart-burn which is also has non-sedative properties), which I assume again is only available on prescription.

So we have Professor Stephenson saying they (Calpol and Nurofen) are not sedatives and do not aid sleep and Dr Wayne Lenney saying he has never seen an overdose of Calpol. You see who do we believe, a policeman who is not medically trained or a Professor and Doctor that are and also independent of the case?

Kate McCann speaks openly of the tests conducted on her and her children and the fears they conveyed to the Police in Portugal. She writes:

Since Madeleine was snatched apparently without making a sound, we had always suspected that all three children might have been sedated by the abductor.  We mentioned this to the police that night and several more times in the following weeks, but no testing of urine, blood or hair, which could have revealed the presence of drugs, had ever been done.  Apparently, hair grows at a rate of approximately 1cm per month, so it was possible that hair samples taken even four months later could provide us with additional information.  It was worth a shot, at least.  I asked for samples of my own hair to be taken as well simply because I was fed up with the constant insinuations that I took tranquillizers, sleeping pills or any medication, for that matter.

She then speaks about how the process seemed to take ages and how she cried as she heard the scissors cutting their baby-blond hair.  She then tells us of the results.

All the hair samples produced negative results.  While this didn’t totally exclude the possibility that the children had been sedated, especially given the time that had elapsed, it meant nobody else (including the PJ and the media) could prove otherwise.  It also confirmed that I didn’t ‘abuse’ sedative medication.

But that never stopped the media and misinterpreting what Kate’s father actually said.  The sun wrote in an article dated 7th September 2007 (picture here)

Mr Healy said: “I know Kate and Gerry would not harm Madeleine at all.

“Kate may have used Calpol (to help her sleep) but it’s outrageous to think of anything else.”

Even though it is hard to hear what Brian Healy says but he does not say Kate gave Calpol to help her sleep

The video – Listen from 59 seconds

Now once again thanks to Carana, the true facts about Calpol Night.  Carana wrote:

I don’t remember how this sedative rumour actually started, but it was clearly doing the rounds when Sky interviewed the Grandad (7 Sept):

“Is it possible that Kate, with her medical background, might have wanted to help Madeleine to go to sleep that night?”
“No, not at all.”
“Even out of kindness? She certainly wouldn’t have…”
“Not even out of kindness. She may have used Calpol… like most mothers…Nothing… it’s just outrageous to even think about it.”

The Sun then ran with it and added “to help her sleep” in the quote:

The Sun (7 Sept)
Mr Healy said: “I know Kate and Gerry would not harm Madeleine at all.

“Kate may have used Calpol (to help her sleep), but it’s just outrageous to think of anything else.”


This, of course, got slightly more mangled in the Portuguese papers, in which the Grandad was alleged to have said Kate must have given Calpol [to help her to sleep]… A copy even ended up in the police files:


According to the link below, Calpol Night was first authorized in December 2006 (I had seen January 2007 elsewhere, but can’t find the link):


However, it wasn’t due to go on sale until sometime in September 2007:


There you have it.  Calpol Night did NOT go on sale until September 2007.

Carana again in another comment shows that Kate and Gerry McCann did in fact speak to the Liaison Officers that arrived from the UK.  In answer to Goncalos comment in his book

“It is only three months later that Kate speaks about this possibility, suggesting that the police proceed with these tests.”

Carana replies:


The issue of whether Madeleine could have been sedated so as to facilitate an abduction was one of the first questions the parents asked the UK liaison officers (as soon as they arrived on 5 May) to follow up with the PJ.

In view of the fact that the twins didn’t wake up despite the noise, it would have made sense for the PJ to test the twins for common sedatives or chloroform, sleeping gas, etc., way back then, wouldn’t it?



9 comments on “Calpol and Nurofen on the McCann Holiday…..

  1. more excuses from Amaral

    From the start, the way the children slept had seemed suspicious to us and we
    wanted to have screening tests carried out: nevertheless, faced with the media
    coverage of the case, we had put this off, worried about exposing the parents to
    trial by the public. This was a mistake.

  2. Hi Samantha.

    Can someone explain to me in two syllables or less why a discreet test of the children in the early days would have “exposed” anyone to any media attention whatsoever?

  3. I think there are also cultural differences somewhere along the line. 

    The UK Crimewatch-type of reconstruction would be an appeal to witnesses. Inconsistencies between primary witnesses could presumably have been ironed out beforehand – as opposed to relying on summary statements with all the language problems and the stress of the moment.

    As far as I can understand (could be wrong, though), in PT, it’s used to try to make the various protagonists face up to inconsistencies and, presumably, confess to whatever the crime may have been. If that really is the mindset in PT, then I can understand that that type of reconstruction would need to take place away from the media attention. 

    However, at the time, all options were supposedly open, the media were already there and so were many of the various people present at the time (MW/OC staff, volunteers, T9…. ). 

    To be fair, I don’t know who was responsible for that (non) decision. 

    Unless I’m mistaken GA was the “coordinator”. Now, at that time, does that mean he was the lead investigator or a paper/SMS pusher?

    Can’t have it both ways.

  4. Thanks for refinding all that. 

    Can anyone explain why GA says that Kate first mentioned the issue of sedatives 3 months later?

    • Sorry I have been trying to think for the past 3 hours why he said that when all the evidence points to the McCanns asking way, way before 3 months

  5. made SEVERAL requests.?………………………

    Strangely, Kate also made several
    requests, three months after the disappearance of Madeleine, that the police
    should take blood, hair and nail tests of Madeleine’s twin siblings, because, as
    she said, she remembered that on the day of Madeleine’s disappearance, in spite
    of all the commotion and noise made by the authorities and other persons who
    were looking for Madeleine in apartment 5ª of the OC, the twins never woke up,
    having been transported to another apartment, they remained asleep, due to which
    she now presumes that they were under the effect of some sedative drug that a
    presumed abductor had administered to the three children in order to be able to
    abduct Madeleine, a situation which Kate refers to being possible according to
    what she read in a criminal investigation manual given to her by the British
    authorities, that would have been the procedure of the abductor in the real case
    involving abduction, rape and murder of the girl.


    Processos Vol XPages 2533 – 2534Service
    InformationDate: 2007/09/03For : Goncalo AmaralFrom
    Ricardo Paiva, Inspector

  6. […] Calpol and Nurofen on the McCann Holiday […]

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