Minor Sore Gum Remedies May Have Fatal Side Effects


May 26, 2011

There have recently been reports by the FDA of methemoglobinemia, which is a rare but potentially life-threatening side effect associated with the use of products that contain benzocaine.

The condition, methemoglobinemia, reduces the amount of oxygen that is carried through the blood stream.

Benzocaine products are normally used in medical procedures to numb the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. Benzocaine gels and sprays and liquids are also sold over the counter and used to soothe teething gums in infants, to put on canker sores, and to help soothe irritation of the mouth and gums.

The FDA is now sending out alerts as it has received 72 new reports of methemoglobinemia, which is a potentially life-threatening side effect of benzocaine products. There have been 3 deaths so far and a total of 319 cases reported of this dangerous side effect. The symptoms of methemoglobinemia can happen within minutes or hours of using one of these products. The dosage can vary as well with as little as one spray being able to trigger symptoms in some people.

The FDA is now recommending against the use of benzocaine products for any children under the age of two years old. This recommendation stems primarily from the fact that many cases being reported are of children who were treating minor teething symptoms with remedies containing benzocaine.

Symptoms of Methemoglobinemia include:

  • Pale, gray or blue colored skin, lips and nail beds
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue

Methemoglobinemia has been referred to as "blue baby syndrome" when the condition affects infants. It gets this name because as oxygen is deprived in the blood stream a baby's skin will turn a bluish color.

Product Use

There currently are no warnings of methemoglobinemia in benzocaine products. Anyone that experiences any of the above symptoms will probably need treatment with medications or need to be admitted to a hospital.

Baby Orajel has been singled out as one of the most dangerous products. This product is used for teething in children, ages two and younger. This product should not be given to children of this age except under the advice and supervision of a healthcare professional.

If you are using or going to use a product containing benzocaine, you should follow the recommendations in the product label and talk to your healthcare professional about the risks of using benzocaine.

If you or someone you know used a benzocaine product and has been diagnosed with methemoglobinemia, you should contact an experienced Georgia product liability and defective drug attorney immediately. You may be entitled to compensation, and our law firm can consult with you and advise you of your rights.

If you experience any side effects from using benzocaine-containing products, it is important that you take the time to report it to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program. Reporting any and all side effects of any drugs that may be harmful is the only way to get the FDA to take notice and issue precautions that can save lives. The FDA is evaluating benzocaine products at this time and will continue to update the public when it has additional information. The Agency will take appropriate regulatory actions as warranted.

If you have currently been injured by the use of medications or over-the-counter products containing benzocaine, you should seek medical attention immediately. Prompt diagnosis and treatment may help you to avoid irreparable damage.

It is also important to take immediate legal action, as there are statute of limitations time limits on filing a defective pharmaceutical claim. Drug litigation that is successful not only helps you obtain the compensation that you deserve, but it also helps to send a clear message to the pharmaceutical industry regarding accountability and consumer safety.

Our experienced Georgia dangerous drug lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat

Category: Personal Injury

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