Some Maryland parents are complaining after medication samples were included in bags of treats distributed to students during the Lansdown School District’s annual “Trunk-or-Treat” Halloween celebration.
The samples at issue were manufactured by Hyland’s Homeopathic, the same company forced to recall teething tablets earlier this year after those products were found to contain “inconsistent” amounts of potentially-toxic belladonna.
The Trunk-or-Treat event, promoted as a “safe and fun” alternative to trick-or-treating, was attended by approximately 1,100 children from Lansdown elementary and middle schools.
A media company called PTO Today provided Hyland’s Cold ’n Cough syrup packets to the Lansdown Middle School PTA, which initially distributed the samples during a parent’ back-to-school-night earlier this year. A spokesperson for PTO Today’s parent company, School Family Media, told The Baltimore Sun that PTA groups receiving the Hyland’s cough syrup packets agree to only distribute the samples during such events.
Despite that purported agreement, the PTA chose to include leftover packets in Halloween treat bags that also contained candy, snacks, gift cards, and other promotional items. Volunteers distributing the bags were instructed to tell children that: ‘There’s something in there for you and something in there for your parents as well,”
However, some parents who attended the event with their children claim they were never told that the bags contained medication samples. A father also noted that his 11-year-old son’s bag contained four packets, each containing one dose of the cough medicine
The label on the Hyland’s cough syrup packet recommends that parents and caregivers “Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children.”
“It’s never a good idea to give young children medication unsupervised,” Adam Spanier, a pediatrician and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine,” told The Baltimore Sun.
“Asking a young child to take responsibility for any kind of supplement or medicine is not advisable,” he continued.
Homeopathic medicines such as Hyland’s are not evaluated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness.
Hyland’s and other homeopathic drug makers began pulling infant teething remedies from the market after a U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) review tied homeopathic teething pills and gels to more than 300 injuries and 10 deaths.
Details of those adverse events suggested belladonna poisoning. Later testing found that products manufactured by Hyland’s and Raritan Pharmaceuticals contained inconsistent amounts of the ingredient that could differ from what was listed on the products’ labels.
While the Hyland’s cough syrup samples distributed in the Lansdown school district do not appear to contain belladonna, the herbal ingredient is a frequent component in other homeopathic medications because of its sedative properties. However, the FDA has warned that its effects are unpredictable in children