Many people assume drugs from a pharmacy, especially those sold over the counter, are safe. Most are when taken as directed, but a new warning has surfaced regarding a popular medication used to combat mouth pain, especially in teething children.
The Federal Drug Administration declared certain OTC teething gels that contain benzocaine can be dangerous, even fatal, in young children. Kids under the age of two are especially susceptible. Adults are not exempt, but are more resilient to the negative side effects of the drug.
Rare cases of benzocaine use have resulted in the development of methemoglobinemia, a condition that vastly lowers oxygen in the blood, which can lead to breathing problems and possibly death. "At least 29 people have developed methemoglobinemia because of benzocaine gel. Fifteen of them were infants (under two years of age)."
The FDA recommends avoiding all teething gels for infants. Alternate strategies include gently massaging the gums and giving the child something rubbery to chew on (make sure to supervise to prevent the swallowing or choking on the rubber).
This is not the first warning and as deaths continue to rise, regulators have stepped up to tighten the restrictions on benzocaine. The FDA has called for the drug to be removed from medications for children and a warning label applied to those for adults.
If you have been using Orajel or other products containing benzocaine on yourself or your child, watch out for symptoms of methemoglobinemia such as pale skin, headache, racing heartbeat, confusion, and trouble breathing. Contact a doctor immediately if these occur. If you or your child have been affected by this drug, get in touch with Reich and Binstock, and we will help get you the compensation you deserve.