Study: Dosing instructions on kids’ OTC meds often incorrect, confusing

Just after a study was released showing a dramatic dip in ER visits following removal of young children’s formulations from the market, another study has been published indicating that dosing instructions on the products are often confusing as all get out.

A staggering 98.6% of nearly 150 over-the-counter medications examined by the study exhibited at least one inconsistency between package instruction and an “accompanying device with respect to doses listed or marketed on the device.” One out of four of the items reviewed completely lacked markings necessary to properly administer the medication to children.

“Among the measuring devices, 81.1 percent included 1 or more superfluous markings. The text used for units of measurement was inconsistent between the product’s label and the enclosed device in 89 percent of products. A total of 11 products (5.5 percent) used nonstandard units of measurement, such as drams, cubic centimeters, or fluid ounces, as part of the doses listed,” the authors write.

Researchers also found potential problems with a lack of standardized measurement in medication packaging and dispensing devices. Dr. H. Shonna Yin of the New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center, who conducted the study to determine dosing safety of some of the most popular pediatric OTC formulations, explains some of the inconsistency.

“Devices often have extra markings on them that are not listed on the label, which can be distracting and lead to confusion,” says Dr. Yin. “Furthermore, some devices are missing doses that are recommended on the label, making the task of dosing more difficult.”

Co-author Benard P. Dreyer, MD commented on the study, indicating that introducing standardized dosing instructions could help avoid dosing errors in children. The study indicated that half of American children are given such a medication at least once a week.