KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Food and Drug Administration is endorsing the use of a safety device for bottles of children's medicines that contain liquid acetaminophen or Tylenol. The device is already on many, though not all, of those products.
The little plastic device called a flow restrictor fits into the neck of a medicine bottle. Video from the Centers for Disease Control shows how it can prevent poisoning in children. With the device in place, only six percent of children were able to empty a bottle when the safety cap was not locked.
"It prevents liquid pouring directly out of the bottle. Generally, you would need to use something like a syringe in order to pull the medicine out of the bottle," said Dr. Adam Algren, a poison specialist at Children's Mercy Hospital.
In 2011, manufacturers started putting the devices in bottles of liquid medicine containing acetaminophen to prevent poisonings that can result in liver failure and death. Now, the FDA is finally endorsing that use, but not mandating it.
"It has a potential to make a difference. But again, there are lot of different products out there, so unless this becomes a standard across all products, there are certainly going to continue to be accidental overdoses," said Dr. Algren.
He adds that flow restrictors should be looked at for other liquid medicines, too, not just those containing acetaminophen.
Parents should be aware that some flow restrictors work better than others. Consumer Reports found the type of restrictor found in store brands from Dollar General and Family Dollar performed better than the flow restrictor on Tylenol products.
Dr. Algren says to prevent poisonings, take these other steps: Keep the childproof cap secure. Keep the medicine locked up. Teach your children that medicine is not candy.