On October 25th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety announcement, calling attention to accidental poisonings in children who swallowed over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops or nasal sprays containing the active ingredient tetrahydrozoline, oxymetalozine or naphazoline.
These active ingredients are found in many OTC eye drops (to treat red eyes due to minor eye irritation or allergies) and nasal sprays (to relieve stuff noses due to colds or hay fever. They work by constricting blood vessels both in the outer lining of the eyes, known as the conjunctiva, and the mucous membranes inside the nose.
OTC eye drops, as well as nasal sprays, are available under several well-known brand names, such as Visine, Afrin, Neo-Synephrine, Dristan and Mucinex, as well as several less-expensive generic and store-brand versions.
For a list of the most commonly used brands, see the FDA website athttp://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm325257.htm.
The FDA warned that accidental ingestion of a child of as little as 1-2 milliliters (a fraction of a teaspoon) of nasal sprays or eye drops could result in serious, potentially life-threatening adverse events. The agency’s warning was based on an analysis of 96 cases, reported between 1985 and 2012, of children accidentally swallowing one of these products. The children’s ages ranged from a month old to five years of age. While no deaths have been reported, 53 of the children (about 55 percent) were hospitalized for signs of toxicity, including nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, rapid heart rate and coma.
Yelena Maslov, an FDA pharmacist, emphasized that “underreporting of these types of events is common, so it is possible there are additional cases that may not be aware of.” The FDA has often estimated that only 1 out of 10 adverse drug reactions is actually reported.
If you have young children in your home, take appropriate precautions to ensure that children cannot accidentally ingest your medications, by keeping them out of reach.
Ideally, medication bottles and containers should have child-resistant caps and be kept in a locked container or box or in a cabinet out of the reach of small children. You should never leave medications on a counter top or table where the child can get their hands on them. The FDA also advises against taking medicines in front of young children, since they often imitate adults.
Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).