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FOR RELEASE: November 6, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601
-OR-
Lee McGoodwin
Director, Oklahoma Poison Control Center
800-222-1222

Don’t Treat Swallowed Poison with Syrup of IPECAC
Health Officials Announce Policy Change

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), in partnership with the Oklahoma Poison Control Center, joined with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this week to recommend that syrup of ipecac no longer be used routinely as a home treatment strategy for unintentional poisonings. Previously, health officials advised that syrup of ipecac be kept as a home remedy, when directed by an emergency room doctor or the Poison Control Center to help induce vomiting if it was feared a child had swallowed a poisonous substance.

“The main reason for the policy change is because recent research has failed to show benefit for children who were treated with ipecac,” said OSDH Deputy Commissioner for Family Health Services Dr. Edd Rhoades. “Ipecac use has been harmful when improperly administered by parents or abused by people with eating disorders.”

The study entitled, "Home Syrup of Ipecac Use Does Not Reduce Emergency Department Use or Improve Outcome," in the November issue of Pediatrics, studied data from 64 U.S. Poison Control Centers and concluded that there is no improvement in patient outcome from the use of syrup of ipecac at home. In the same issue of Pediatrics is a commentary entitled, "The Demise of Ipecac," which addresses the new AAP policy posted at http://www.aap.org.

The new AAP policy stresses the following poison prevention tips:

  • Keep potential poisons locked out of sight and out of reach.
  • Never transfer a substance from its original container to an alternate container.
  • Safely dispose of all unused and no longer needed medications.
  • Post the Poison Control Center telephone number near the phone: (800) 222-1222.
  • Call 9-1-1 in the case of suspected unintentional poisoning, convulsions, cessation of breathing, or unconsciousness.

For more information about poison control safety tips, contact the Oklahoma Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222 or view their Web site at www.oklahomapoison.org . Poison experts are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The poison center’s highly trained pharmacists and registered nurses are available to answer questions about poisoning and can provide poison education materials including brochures and stickers. The Oklahoma Poison Control Center is a program of the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy and the Children’s Hospital at OU MEDICAL CENTER.

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