Orally dissolving film strips could pose hazard to kids


In March 2013, we described a case in which a number of 9- and 10-year old children were taken to hospitals after they had ingested what they thought were breath mints but were actually nicotine replacement lozenges. The “mints” had been brought to school by a classmate. Unfortunately, we have learned of a similar incident, this time involving melatonin strips.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body and is involved in the management of sleep and wake cycles. It is also available over-the-counter as a dietary supplement, promoted to help with jet lag and sleeplessness. Melatonin is available in a variety of dosage forms including, capsules, tablets, oral liquid, and now flavored oral film strips. The problem is the melatonin film strips and their containers look just like widely-available breath mint film strips.

Recently, a mother contacted us and shared that a child at her son’s school shared what he thought were breath mint film strips with several children before it was recognized that the film strips actually contained melatonin. Fortunately, melatonin is unlikely to be toxic to anyone at almost any dose and none of the children who placed strips in their mouth were harmed.

It is easy to see how patients, especially children, can mistake medicated oral film strips with breath mints as the packaging looks similar. While this dosage form offers convenience and ease of administration to patients who can’t easily swallow pills, we all know that kids like to mimic adult behaviors. So please, use caution and treat strips that contain drug or natural substances like any other medication. Secure purses and drug storage and don’t refer to them as candy. If you are the one using them, don’t do it in front of children.

Created on October 7, 2013

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