Schumer asks feds to issue regs boosting safety of children's medicine

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) this week asked two federal agencies to explore a new requirement that "flow restrictors" be includes on all bottles containing liquid medicines for kids, to help ensure kids don't overdose on these medicines.

Schumer wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), asking both to work together on a new requirement.

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"In their effort to regulate the safety of drugs in the U.S., the FDA should work to require that flow restrictors be used on all pediatric liquid medicine containers," he wrote. "The CPSC has the ability to set standards for the types of flow restrictors that are to be used such as the 'closed' flow restrictors.

"Together, both agencies should work together to ensure that the safest drug containers are on the market."

Schumer was reacting to a finding by Consumer Reports that said closed flow restrictors reduce or eliminate the amount of medicine kids can get on their own from a bottle. He said requiring these devices on each bottle would help reduce the 10,000 accidental overdoses that occur each year, and the 20 related child deaths.

Schumer also said that while the device costs about ten cents each, and some companies are using them, Consumer Reports found that just five of 31 over-the-counter products use them.

Earlier this week, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) said it is involved in on ongoing study of how to prevent accidental overdoses. But the group said it believes a better answer is ensuring people store medicines away from children.

"The most impactful solution is locking the child-resistant closure and storing all medicines up and away and out of children's reach," the group said. "This is why we educate parents and caregivers to store medicines up and away and out of sight through a campaign led by CHPA's Educational Foundation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's PROTECT Initiative."

The group added that flow resistors are "one tool" parents can use, but said that answer is not enough on its own. "Because medicines are meant to be accessible, flow restrictors aren’t sufficient to prevent accidental, unsupervised medicine ingestions, but safe and appropriate storage is," it said.