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Safety Brief

Recently a mother brought her 2-year-old to an emergency department (ED) after the child ingested an unknown quantity of WELLBUTRIN SR (bupropion sustained-release) tablets. She also brought along the prescription bottle. This allowed the ED staff to estimate the number of tablets the child had ingested by comparing the quantity dispensed and the date it was filled. The child was admitted, treated, and eventually discharged in good condition.

Unfortunately, poisonings in children are not uncommon, but the person who sent in this report was particularly concerned that the appearance of these tablets might entice a child to ingest them, thinking they were candy. As seen in the photo, the various strength tablets are brightly colored and the tablet markings (drug name and strength), when viewed upside down, give the illusion of a happy face on the tablet. Some staff at the ED actually commented on how cute and pleasing the tablets looked, and that perhaps they were colored and marked this way due to their use in treating depression.

Obviously, the importance of safety caps and keeping medications out of children’s reach cannot be overstated. But, healthcare practitioners should remind parents and caregivers how important it is to educate children about poisons–especially with so many medications resembling familiar candy such as M&M’s and Skittles.
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