Child safety advocates are calling on drug companies to
make over-the-counter eye drops and nose sprays safer for children. The active ingredients in these medications, known as imidazoline derivatives,
have been linked to serious health consequences when swallowed by small children.
Between 1985 and 2012, the Food and Drug Administration identified 96 cases
in which children ranging from 1 month to 5 years accidentally swallowed
products containing these ingredients. However, it is likely many cases
were unreported. Although no deaths have been identified, more than half
of the cases (53) required hospitalization because of symptoms that included
nausea, vomiting, lethargy (sleepiness), tachycardia (fast heart beat), and coma.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) proposed
a rule to require child-resistant packaging for all products containing
at least 0.08 mg of an imidazoline derivative. However, it has not been
Advice for Parents and Caregivers
In the meantime, parents are urged to keep these medications, which include
Visine, Dristan and Mucinex, out of the reach of children. If a child
accidentally swallows OTC redness-relief eye drops or nasal decongestant
spray, call your local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) immediately.
FDA also provides the following tips:
- Store medicines in a safe location that is too high for young children
to reach or see.
- Never leave medicines or vitamins out on a kitchen counter or at a sick
- If a medicine bottle does have a safety cap, be sure to relock it each
time you use it.
- Remind babysitters, houseguests, and visitors to keep purses, bags, or
coats that have medicines in them away and out of sight when they are
in your home.
- Avoid taking medicines in front of young children because they like to