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Benzocaine Products Get Blood Disorder Warning in Canada

Filed April 6th, 2012 Laurie

Health Canada is letting Canadians know that it has asked companies to include new risk statements in the packaging and labeling of licensed benzocaine products. In April 2011, the agency reminded the public about possible serious health effects associated with benzocaine, including the blood condition methemoglobinemia.

Canadians are urged to carefully read instructions before using benzocaine products. If, after using a benzocaine product, Canadians experience weakness, confusion, headache, difficulty breathing and/or pale, gray or blue colored skin, they should stop using the product and seek immediate medical attention. Canadians should speak to a physician if they have any questions about a benzocaine product, especially before using it on a child under the age of two.

Benzocaine products are typically found over-the-counter in gels, sprays, swabs, liquids, lotions, lozenges. Very few require a prescription. They are also sometimes used in surgical, dental, and other medical procedures to numb the mouth and throat.

The new risk statement includes added instructions about the risks and safe use of methemoglobinemia. They also include information about how to recognize the signs and symptoms of methemoglobinemia.
Canadians who have experienced adverse events while using a product containing benzocaine should report the event to MedEffect Canada by calling 1-866-234-2345, or visiting their website for instructions on how to report online, by mail, or by fax.

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