Novartis Recalls Theraflu, Triaminic After Accidental Poisonings

Tayla Holman

Novartis, the pharmaceutical company that makes Theraflu and Triaminic, has recalled 2.3 million units of cold and cough syrups after four children opened the child-resistant caps and accidentally poisoned themselves. The company recalled six kinds of Theraflu Warming Relief syrups and 18 kinds of Triaminic syrups.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, it is possible for children to remove the caps even when the tamper-evident seal is still in place. In 1970, the US Poison Prevention Packaging Act made child-resistant caps the norm. Cases of child poisonings have declined since then, but the caps haven't completely eliminated accidents.

Dr. Donna Seger, executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center and a professor at Vanderbilt University, said, "It's really common. Cold and flu medicine are one of the top exposures that children have in the US."

Henry Spiller, a toxicologist and director of the Central Ohio Poison center said, "The child-resistant closure is not 'child-proof.' It's intended to slow them down... It doesn't mean children can't open it given a little bit of time."

According to the most recent report by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, about 40,000 children under the age of 5 experienced acetaminophen poisoning in 2011. 15,000 children younger than 5 experienced diphenhydramine poisoning. Both are ingredients in Theraflu and Triaminic and can cause liver injury or failure and seizures or cardiac arrhythmias.

On its website, the CPSC said the affected products were sold nationwide between May 2010 and December 2011. A full list of the recalled items can be found on the Novartis website.