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Reporting a Medication Error

"Gummy" Medicines Put Children at Risk of Poisoning

Published June 18, 2024

A “gummy” is a chewy, sticky substance that often comes in kid friendly colors and shapes. Gummies are best known as candy (e.g., Gummy Bears)and include ingredients such as sweeteners, flavorings, and food coloring. However, not all gummies are candy! In recent years, non-candy gummies have become a popular way to take vitamins, supplements, and other medicines. Gummy products may be helpful for children and adults who have a hard time swallowing tablets and capsules. Gummies may also taste better than other forms of medicine (e.g., tablets, liquid). They can taste so good that children may think they are candy. If a child gets into medicine gummies, they may eat a lot of them which can result in a drug overdose and poisoning.

For example, there is a product called DrKids Children's Pain and Fever Gummy Bite (Figure 1). Each gummy bite contains 80 mg of acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is commonly known by the brand name Tylenol and is used to treat mild pain and reduce fever. When used as directed, acetaminophen is safe and effective. However, if a person takes too much, serious harm, including liver failure and death, can occur. The first signs of taking too much acetaminophen may include nausea, vomiting, and weakness, followed by stomach pain, irritability, loss of appetite, diarrhea, yellowing of the skin and eyes, tremors, bleeding or bruising, and fainting.

Figure 1. DrKids Children’s Pain and Fever Gummy Bites has 80 mg of acetaminophen per gummy.

The dose of acetaminophen is based on the child’s weight. However, you should ask your child’s doctor how much to give your child if they are under 2 years of age. The Drug Facts (Figure 2) label on the medicine bottle includes a dosing chart (you have to peel back the label) that tells parents how much acetaminophen to give their child. The label also states that five doses is the maximum daily dose that is safe for a child to take. Extreme caution should be used when using this product. As stated earlier, children may think these are candies and swallowing too many of them can make your child very sick.

Figure 2. The dosing chart on the inside peel label of DrKids Children’s Pain and Fever Gummy Bites provides a dose based on the child’s weight.

Here's what you can do: Avoid medicines that are gummies. If you must buy them, especially any acetaminophen-containing gummy product, be very careful. DrKids Children's Pain and Fever Gummy Bites comes with a child-resistant cap; but the caps are not childproof. Children can still open bottles with child-resistant caps. Acetaminophen gummies should NEVER be taken out of their container and left on a counter. Never store them in a baggie or other medicine organizers. Never tell your child gummy medicine (or any medicine) is candy, even if your child does not like to take their medicine. If you think your child may have eaten acetaminophen gummies, or any medicine-containing gummies, immediately call 911 and/or Poison Control (1-800-222-1222). Always store all medicines up and away, and out of sight and reach of children.

Click here to learn more about poison prevention.  

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