Preventing Accidental Overdose of Meds for ChildrenAny medication (even over-the-counter drugs) can become deadly when taken in large amounts or in combination with other chemicals. Liquid medications taken by mouth (called oral dosing) are formulated for ease of swallowing. This is helpful for the elderly, anyone with difficulty swallowing, and children.
With liquid drug products, there is a grave concern that children will be given too much of a good thing. There are printed directions with each bottle but not all parents and caregivers can read or understand the directions. Older adults (when taking the medication or giving it to a child) may not be able to see the small print.
That's why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided guidance for dispensing over-the-counter drugs. Drug companies that make liquid medications follow these guidelines by providing a cup, dropper, syringe, or spoon to measure out the right dose.
Devices provided in the package must have clear markings with dosage directions properly labeled. In fact, the labeling must still be clearly visible even after the medication has been put into the device.
Warnings must be provided that these devices (spoons, syringes, cups, droppers) must not be used for any other medication. The dispensing device must only be used with the medication it comes with.
Pharmacists, physicians, and other health care professionals who dispense medications are advised to pass on these important safety tips to their patients (or the patient's caretakers):
Following these simple guidelines can go a long way in preventing accidental overdoses of common over-the-counter (OTC) medications used for colds, digestive problems, pain, and other problems.
If any problems occur, you can report them to the Food and Drug Administration's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program. Call 800-332-1088 for the special form to fill out. You can also go on-line and make a report at www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm. Any side effects or problems with product quality should be reported in order to prevent similar problems for others.
Press Release From the Food and Drug Administration. FDA Issues Final Guidance for Liquid OTC Drug Products with Dispensing Devices. In Pain Medicine News. June 2011. Vol. 9. No. 6. Pp. 43.
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