Quick question: what is the Number One cause for emergency room visits among toddlers? If you said accidental poisoning, you’re in the ballpark. More specifically, it’s accidental overdoses of common OTC medications that send 10,000 children under the age of six to the hospital every year. In order to help deal with this hazard, many pharmaceutical manufacturers have voluntarily placed various types of flow restricting devices on bottles of liquid medications.
Not all of these devices are created equal. Recently, Consumer Reports did some tests on various flow-restricting devices. Turns out that among the ones being employed for medications containing acetaminophen, those sold my McNeil Consumer Healthcare, makers of Tylenol, were among the least effective. Furthermore, these flow restrictors are not being used for all the various and sundry medications that pose a threat to young children.
McNeil told ProPublica that “the issue of accidental ingestion of medicine by young children is one we take very seriously.”
Although McNeil did not respond to Consumer Reports when asked why it didn’t use the more effective flow restrictors, ProPublica points out that basic devices of this type cost approximately .02-.03c apiece – while more advances models run between .08 and .10c each.
In the meantime, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which has the power to regulate the use of flow restrictors and require that drug companies use devices that meet certain standards, continues to rely on “voluntary compliance.”