Keeping dangerous medicines out of children’s reach is crucial

From the CDC | Updated on February 15, 2020

Each year, there are about 4,00,000 poison centre calls and 50,000 ER (emergency room) visits as a result of young children ingesting medications when adults weren’t paying attention. A new study finds that more than half of the time when children get hold of prescription pills, the medication had already been removed from the child-resistant container by an adult.

The findings come from a study of calls to five US poison control centres by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University School of Medicine, and the Georgia Poison Center. The study appears in The Journal of Pediatrics.

The study’s senior author, Daniel Budnitz, of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, pointed out, “There is an opportunity here for innovative medication container options that promote adult adherence and provide portability and convenience, while maintaining child safety.”

Four common scenarios

Child-resistant packaging keeps kids safe — but only when pills are inside. The current study found four common scenarios in which young children get into prescription pills after the pills are out of their original containers: Adults put pills into pill organisers that are not child-resistant; Adults put pills into baggies or other small containers that are not child-resistant to carry with them; leave pills out on counter tops or on a bedside table for someone to take later and sometimes adults spill or drop pills and may miss some when picking them up.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications (49 per cent) and opioids (43 per cent) were, more often, not in any container when found by young children.

Diabetes drugs (34 per cent) and cardiac medications (31 per cent) were more often transferred to alternate containers such as pill organisers or baggies. Non-prescription medications were most often accessed from the original containers, but for many of these medications, child-resistant packaging is not required because of low potential for toxicity.

Published on February 15, 2020

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