Ipecac Fast Facts
“The drug is clearly effective at inducing vomiting, but controlled studies have shown that ipecac does not empty the stomach of all poisonous content,” says Charles Ganley, M.D., director of the Division of Over-the-Counter Drug Products for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Simply put, the benefits are not there to justify its use.”
Besides its questionable effectiveness, ipecac is foul-tasting and can cause a person to vomit for several hours. The drug has also been abused in recent years by those with eating disorders, often bulimia, as a means to lose weight. Citing these and many other factors, the FDA voted recently to strip ipecac of its over-the-counter status. If the decision is upheld, ipecac could become a prescription-only drug as soon as December.
If your child has swallowed something toxic, call the American Association of Poison Control Centers Hotline at (800) 222-1222. Professionals there will help you determine the severity of the case. Most important, remain calm and refrain from giving your child ipecac or other home remedies. They seldom work and oftentimes make the situation worse. Call 911 immediately if your child collapses or stops breathing.
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