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The federal FDA is urging consumers not to swallow the "Benadryl Extra-Strength Itch-Stopping Gel" medicine, after people reporting they've been drinking the lotion medicine meant to be used on the skin externally.
At least 121 U.S. people reported to the federal Food and Drug Administration that they'd been drinking, gulping or ingesting "Benadryl Extra-Strength Itch-Stopping Gel" instead of applying the lotion to the skin, because they supposedly confused the medicine with other over-the-counter Benadryl brand products that are actually intended to be ingested.
Seems that "drinking problem" has been going on for years, reports rolling into the FDA between 2001 and 2009. Those are only the people who've taken the time to report medication mix-ups to the federal agency.
FDA officials said there's been no medical reports of serious side effects caused by drinking the "Benadryl Extra-Strength Itch-Stopping Gel" lotion. In large amounts, the active ingredient in the skin gel, diphenhydramine, can cause numb lips, unconsciousness, hallucinations and confusion for people.
One man reported that he simply grabbed the wrong medicine from the kitchen cabinet where he stored the cough medicine. Kitchen cabinet? There appears to be more than one problem here.
"One small swig and he knew he had made a mistake," reported the online patient safety site www.consumermedsafety.org. "He threw it up and his lips were numb for two hours."
The Benadryl anti-itch gel (for external use only) comes packaged in bottles of similar in shape and size to the oral medication, and consistency of the fluid of the medicines is similar. Still, the medicine's manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, has taken steps to prevent potential serious medical injuries.
Johnson & Johnson has changed the physical label for "Benadryl Extra-Strength Itch-Stopping Gel" and added a new, prominent statement on the product that specificallly says "For Skin Use Only". In addition, an actual new sticker now is attached to the Benadryl cap with the same warning or instruction. That sticker, however, will only do the user good on the first potential swig.
Johnson & Johnson is also planning to embark on researching the "problem" further--to understand why consumers may be mistakenly swallowing a lotion gel that's only meant to be rubbed into the skin and not ingested.
Good luck, Johnson & Johnson--some things will never be known or understood.