As kids' accidental ODs rise, FDA still won't mandate flow restrictors in medicine bottles


Why is it up to the FDA to put restrictors on all bottles, rather than being the responsibility of parents to store medicines safely away from their children?

I support responsible parenting over nanny state regulation in pretty much all cases.


“Budnitz’s analysis showed that in 2011 about 15,000 of the 74,000 children who went to the emergency room after a drug accident were admitted for further evaluation or treatment.”

What’s that mean? 15,000 admissions per year for “evaluation or treatment”? How many actually warranted treatment? How many were discharged after no treatment at all?

“The poison control center data showed that of 450,000 children evaluated, more than 25,000 exhibited symptoms ranging from a faster heart rate to brief seizures to liver damage, a life-threatening condition.”

450,000 over what period? 74,000 went to the ER in 2011, so this 450,000 is over…about 6 years? And over that period of time 25,000 “exhibited symptoms”? So in a given year, about 15,000 get admitted to the hospital for evaluation or treatment, but over a ~6 year period only 25,000 of them even exhibited any symptoms? And of those that exhibited symptoms, some number of those weren’t even serious, amounting only to thinks like a faster heart rate?

“Even in cases in which children suffer no ill effects, pediatric drug accidents have other costs, from the anxiety experienced by panicked parents to the expense of unnecessary trips to the ER, medical experts said.”

But something must be done, because so many of the ER trips are completely unnecessary and due solely to overreacting parents?

Call me a heartless monster if you must, but this is, by the very numbers quoted, such a non-problem I fail to see why Boing Boing even finds it worthy of posting.


Due to the relative risk of harm and the natural exploration reactions of a child. The FDA is allowed to regulate drug safety, and this affects drug safety. This really isn’t a nanny state regulation (this coming from a person who absolutely and completely despises nanny state laws). Let me guess, you also oppose child resistant seals on medicine as well?


FDA does enough damage by fiat already. How about parents just stop buying cold medicine in bottles without flow restrictors?

Exactly. Or why isn’t this the kind of thing that may be consumer driven, what if consumers with children petitioned the pharmacies directly to add flow restriction or to sell only flow restricted items for children. Walmart loves to tell suppliers what they require of the products they will sell so why not start there?

No love of drug companies but this appears to be more of a marketing/consumer choice issue rather than a regulatory one. Also as an epidemiologist, I am troubled by the original article’s revelation that Budnitz’s findings of an increase in child drug-related ER visits has not yet been tested for statistical significance vs chance or whether this truly is in increase in occurrences or better education and thus vigilance among parents (and we can certainly debate what constitutes a necessary versus cautious trip to the ER).

As a parent of 3 all under 5 years(!) and with a physician wife - I get the importance of the investigation. I just find that the reported incidence rates do not justify the outrage and conspiratorial tone of the article. 20 deaths a year - yes all tragic and preventable- especially when the majority are from prescription meds (and not OTCs) and are likely a mixture of pills (hey kids, candy!) and liquids…I would be more worried about choking on Legos.

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Sounds like you have a awesome business idea staring you in the face. If flow restrictors are so incredibly valuable for saving the lives of children, various shapes and sizes of them, in a semi-disposable format, could be sold by the metric shitload to parents of small children, making you a corresponding metric shitload of money in the process. Oh yeah, and it would have the desired effect of saving kids as a bonus!

I like the idea of you capitalizing on this much better than the suggested solution: to have our government get involved, yet again, in making sure all of our households are baby safe, as a unilateral bureaucratic decision, at our expense. And there’s always consequences and side effects… most of the laws and rules surrounding Acetaminophen are designed to physically harm or kill people so they won’t get high on whatever it’s added to, for example. I don’t need any more “help” from that party.


I’m with you. Requiring the flow restrictor on children’s medicine bottles is almost as bad as requiring child safety seats in cars. We should trust our citizens to drive perfectly to avoid killing their kids. Who could possibly afford the 1% price increase per bottle anyway? I’m outraged!


On one hand, kids are amazingly good at digging around in stuff. On the other, don’t most of these OTC bottles come with child resistant lids? The medicines in my house have these lids. I know the ha-ha funny anecdote is that childproof lids can only be opened by children, but I think by the time my kids figured out how to crack open the lids on medicine bottles, they were smart and informed enough NOT to be chugging the stuff (they knew medicines were BLERGHGH Yucky!)

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Seems like a good idea, and mandating them would be a good thing. I can think of one good reason for companies to stall - if a company implements a kind of flow restrictor, and the government’s new regulations require something different, then a well-meaning company has lost a considerable investment, and must suffer another investment to get in line.

I think the best solution would be for companies to get together, agree on a standard and all implement it.

I wonder if the restrictors would even work as well the article seems to think. They don’t prevent a child from drinking the liquid, they just slow the flow. The child could still drink enough to overdose. It’s just a matter of how much time and effort a child wants to put into it. It might be better to make the stuff less palatable.

It would be a good idea to make these safety devices mandatory, but only in the case they actually work. Do we know for sure?

It might be hard to recycle a glass bottle with a plastic flow restrictor permanently attached. But I am sure that the bottom line is pharmacorps reason for not wanting to invest in this.

Watch the documentary “American Addict” on netflix for more on how the pharmacorps own us.

Yea, let’s have more kids OD/die rather than do something simple that will help.
WTF is the “nanny state” anyway? Other than dog-whistle horse shit that comes out of the mouth of Fox News types (like John - porn stash - Stossell) or some such other brain dead libertarians…


Good grief, where did all the right wing trolls come from? They used to just pounce on gun threads - now they’re opposed to protecting children from drug overdose, because freedom.

Sadly for John Galt, the US Constitution still requires the nation as a whole to promote the general welfare, and that is currently interpreted to include holding corporations accountable when their products kill people. To the extent that an economically viable solution is available, we normally require that accountability. Flow restrictors are a puzzling exception, because they are probably less expensive than such examples of socialist oppression as air bags in cars and failsafe brakes in elevators.


I’m not really bothered by the idea of my bottles having a device to control flow. But it does seem like a pretty good business opportunity assuming you could make them fit the wide variation in bottle opening sizes and threadings without it becoming non-profitable.

Depending on where you live you may be treading on dangerous water if you rebottle (though I admit I use a pill case but then again my scripts are far from fun stuff).

Could be really good though for over the counter meds and pills that are dangerous but not addictive (that’s most of them I think).

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I did this as a kid. Mmmmm…delicious grapey Dimetapp. Kids are dumb, sometimes it takes an entire society to save them from themselves.

The problem I see with marketing third party caps/bottles, is that the people likely to buy those would be the people who are likely to - you know - make sure their kids can’t get into medicine in the first place. So the irresponsible/stupid people wouldn’t buy them and still wouldn’t use them. Hell - even if they were mandatory, I see people removing them for convenience.

I do like this idea for creating a bottle that is made to use WITH a syringe only. OMG - who ever makes children’s medicine bottles are retarded. Many of them have caps that are too small to insert a syringe into. Those that do are often too deep to reach down in the bottom of the bottle. So I am constantly wasting medicine trying to get it into the syringe.


Why not pour the medicine into a separate shallower bottle?