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Labels on OTC Painkillers Need Improvement
Date:3/30/2009

Study found safety warnings for kids were missed, could be more prominent

MONDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- When Laura Bix brought home a bottle of over-the-counter pain relievers recently, she was surprised to find that the bottle did not have a child-resistant cap on it.

Bix, the mother of three small children and an assistant professor in the School of Packaging at Michigan State University, knew that one size of any product line can be exempted from the federal requirement for child-resistant closure as long as the warning is "conspicuous" and "prominent" on the label. However, this was not the case with the painkillers Bix had bought.

"I thought, 'I'm bringing it into my house, so probably others are bringing it in as well,' " she said.

So, Bix conducted a study, published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, to see if consumers were seeing and/or remembering these warnings.

"Child-resistant labeling is really important, because children sometimes feel that medicine is candy, and they run the risk of taking medication and overdosing," explained Amber Watts, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy in Kingsville, Texas. "A lot of times, medication should not be consumed by children, especially those less than 6."

In fact, manufacturers of over-the-counter cough-and-cold medicines recently agreed to stop marketing these products to children under 4.

In the Michigan State study, 61 participants were asked to look at the packages of five over-the-counter pain relievers and were monitored with eye-tracking devices to pinpoint what they were looking at and for how long. Individuals were given 10 seconds to review the label.

"Most people spend five to seven seconds viewing things before making purchasing decisions, so we felt that this was conservati
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