Drug Information Center

College of Pharmacy

FDA warns of risks to children from drops/sprays

According to a recent consumer alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), nearly 100 cases of children aged 1 month to 5 years who swallowed products containing imidazoline derivatives were reported between 1985 and 2012.  Imidazoline derivatives are found in eye drops for redness and in decongestant nasal sprays.  Ingestion of even small amounts of these products can be very harmful to children, causing nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, and coma.  Among the reported cases of ingestion, 53 resulted in hospitalization.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recommended that child-resistant packaging be used for products containing at least 0.08 mg of an imidazoline derivative; however this recommendation has not been implemented. 

To raise awareness of strategies to prevent accidental medication exposure in children, several government and patient safety advocacy organizations have developed an initiative called “Up and Away and Out of Sight”.  This educational program encourages families to keep all medications in high places where they cannot be seen or reached by children.  Parents are also urged to explain to children what medication is and why medications should only be taken with parental supervision. 

In the event of an accidental ingestion of eye drops, nasal sprays, or any other medication, parents should be advised to immediately contact poison control at 1-800-222-1222. 

For further information on the risks of imidazoline derivatives, see the full warning on the FDA website:


More information about the “Up and Away and Out of Sight” initiative can be found here:




< Go Back