• Take a Look at Our New Website!

    Our website has a fresh new look! Check out our new website, at new.consumermedsafety.org, while it is in the beta phase of testing. During this phase, we will continue to check links, fine-tune images, and add new content. ISMP is excited about our new website while we continue to help keep you safe with your medicine. While we are finalizing things, we would love to get your feedback and ideas to improve the website. You can contact us here

  • Beware of vaping products with unproven health claims

    Electronic cigarettes—also called e-cigarettes or “vapes”—have become a popular alternative for smokers addicted to nicotine. These devices are electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), which are battery operated. A heating element turns liquid contained within a cartridge in the device into a vapor that the user breathes in and out. In most e-cigarettes, this liquid contains nicotine and sometimes a flavoring agent (e.g., fruit, candy, or mint).

    Recently, “wellness” vaping products that contain vitamins and/or essential oils are being sold illegally. These products are being offered with unproven health or wellness claims stating they improve mental clarity or treat tumors or asthma. Some examples of false claims are:

    • “Fight off tumors and alleviate symptoms of chemotherapy.”
    • “It’s been used as an organic asthma remedy, ADHD remedy, and dementia treatment.”
    • “Helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.”
    • “Neroli oil...has long been used as a treatment against anxiety and depression, to calm the mind and soothe away tension.”

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has NOT approved any vaping product to prevent or treat any health condition or disease. These false claims may be unsafe, ineffective, and may prevent or delay you from seeking appropriate medical treatment.

    Some vaping products can trigger severe coughing, cause airway tightening, and make speaking and breathing difficult. People with other medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may be at greater risk of severe complications. The bottom line is, there is no way to know if these “wellness” vaping products contain ingredients that can make symptoms worse or cause permanent damage, such as “popcorn lung” (bronchiolitis obliterans which is a buildup of scar tissue in the lungs).

    In addition, studies have found that some vaping products contain cancer-causing chemicals, petroleum, toxic heavy metals, herbicides, and other hazardous chemicals, including diethylene glycol, a chemical found in antifreeze. These ingredients are often hidden on the product label as “proprietary blends.”

    Here’s what you can do: Talk to your healthcare provider if you are considering using a vaping product. Avoid any vaping products that claim to contain vitamins or other natural ingredients that promote wellness, as well as products that claim to treat a wide range of illnesses or diseases. Many of these claims are false. Products claiming to be a “miracle cure” or “guaranteed results” are other red flags of unproven health claims. Finally, check government and consumer protection groups for safety alerts, recalls, and other product warnings.

    Advice from FDA is a feature brought to you by the FDA. You can find this information and more on FDA’s Consumer Health Information website at: www.ismp.org/ext/889. This website features the latest updates on medicines and products regulated by the FDA. Sign up for a free email subscription at: www.ismp.org/ext/262.

  • Worth repeating…Prescription medicine dispensed as a powder, not a liquid

    Over the years, we have received many reports and have written about errors involving powdered medicines that are not mixed with water before being dispensed from the pharmacy. A recent report reminded us that this error still occurs. So, we thought we would share examples of this error again and then provide recommendations to help prevent these errors from happening.

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  • Excuse me, I think there is an error with my prescription: Pharmacy staff should respond with honesty, compassion, and respect

    Most people realize that errors can happen, including when getting a prescription filled at the pharmacy. Although pharmacists do their best, mistakes sometimes happen. Thanks to safer medicine labels and technologies like barcode scanning, mistakes of the past are rapidly declining. The few pharmacy errors that do slip by usually do not cause serious or permanent harm. Still, that is little consolation to a consumer who has been harmed or could have been harmed if a more serious error had happened.

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  • How children frequently get into medicines: Child-resistant caps that are not childproof, accessible medicines, and climbing

    Educational campaigns to keep medicines up and away and out of sight of young children (www.upandaway.org) are widespread. These campaigns, along with packaging changes for some medicines, are making an impact in reducing the number of childhood medicine poisonings. But even today, far too many young children are getting into medicine containers when their parents or caregivers are not looking. US poison control centers receive about 49 calls per hour about medicine poisonings in young children. Every 9 minutes, a young child goes to the emergency department (ED) because they got into a medicine container and took the medicine. Sadly, every hour, a young child is hospitalized because of a medicine poisoning, and every 12 days, a young child dies from the poisoning. So how are young children most often getting into medicines? 

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  • Don’t mix up concentrated “ibuprofen infant drops” with “children’s ibuprofen”

    Ibuprofen is s an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine that parents might give their child to relieve minor aches and pains or reduce a fever. For children, it is available in chewable tablets (100 mg each) and an oral suspension (liquid). But parents may not be aware that there are two different concentrations of the oral suspension. Ibuprofen for infants contains 50 mg per 1.25 mL (40 mg per mL) and is often called “infant drops.” This medicine is for 6- to 23-month-old babies who weigh 12 to 23 pounds (5.5 to 10.5 kilograms [kg]). Babies may not be able to swallow a large amount of medicine. So, ibuprofen for infants is more concentrated than ibuprofen for children.

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