TIME medicine

Child Medication Errors Occur Every 8 Minutes, Study Says

pills
Getty Images

According to a study in the journal Pediatrics

Every eight minutes, a child experiences a medication error like taking the wrong drug or consuming too much, according to a new study published on Monday.

Researchers looked at out-of-hospital medication errors in the National Poison Database System from 2002 to 2012 and found that more 200,000 mishaps are reported to U.S. poison control centers every year, noted the study in the journal Pediatrics. In about 30% of those cases, the child is under age 6.

Nearly 82% of medication errors were from liquid medicine, followed by tablets and capsules at 14.9%, the researchers said. They added that errors increased as kids’ ages decreased, and that 27% of the mistakes occurred when a child was accidentally given the same medication too soon.

Twenty-five of the children died as a result of the errors during the 11-year study period, but overall the vast majority of the cases did not require treatment.

The study authors argue that medication errors are a significant public-health problem that needs more attention. One way to cut down, they suggest, is by making drug packaging and their labels more clear when it comes to directions and dosing.

TIME Drugs

Denver Police Warn Trick-or-Treaters of Marijuana-Infused Candy

"Once that candy dries, there's really no way to tell the difference between candy that's infused and candy that's not infused"

Denver police have warned parents to beware tricks rolled inside Halloween treats this year: marijuana-infused candy.

The Denver police department posted a YouTube video on Monday that shows how difficult it is to tell ordinary candy apart from knock-off candy that edible marijuana manufacturers buy in bulk and spray with a hibiscus hash oil.

“Once that candy dries, there’s really no way to tell the difference between candy that’s infused and candy that’s not infused,” said Patrick Johnson, proprietor of Urban Dispensary, one of several marijuana retailers that have cropped up across the state since the substance was legalized for recreational use last year. “There’s really no way for a child or a parent or anybody, even an expert in the field, to tell you whether or not a product is infused or not.”

His recommendation? Trash any candy that isn’t sealed in a recognizable, brand-name wrapper.

TIME medicine

FDA Approves Combined Hepatitis Drug

Harvoni
Harvoni, the first single medication to treat hepatitis C, was recently approved by the FDA. Gilead Sciences

Harvoni is the third hepatitis C drug approved in the past year

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first single medication to treat hepatitis C on Friday, green-lighting one pill in the place of multiple treatments. The new drug, Harvoni, is the third hepatitis C drug approved in the past year.

“With the development and approval of new treatments for hepatitis C virus, we are changing the treatment paradigm for Americans living with the disease,” said FDA official Edward Cox.

Harvoni, developed by Gilead Sciences, will be the first hepatitis drug to require a pill only once daily. A full 12-week treatment will cost $94,500, less than existing treatments, Reuters reports.

TIME NFL

Report: Adrian Peterson Could Face Arrest After Pot Confession

Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings plays against the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 7 in St. Louis. Michael Thomas—Getty Images

NFL player's admission he 'smoked a little weed' could violate bond conditions

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson could be arrested again after admitting he used drugs, which would violate his bond conditions, reports FOX 9 in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

According to the report, Montgomery County prosecutors have filed documents to have Peterson arrested again after Peterson admitted to a staffer that he “smoked a little weed” before giving a urine sample on Wednesday.

The district attorney has reportedly asked the judge to set aside Peterson’s $15,000 bond.

FOX 9 reports that there likely won’t be any action on Thursday, because the judge presiding over Peterson’s case has a hearing scheduled for Friday morning.

Peterson was arrested and indicted in September on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child after authorities said he hit his 4-year-old son with a switch.

A tentative trial date for the week of Dec. 1 was set on Wednesday. On the same day, Peterson appeared in a Montgomery County, Texas, courtroom, but did not enter a plea.

The 29-year-old faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted on the charges. He agreed to be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list while his investigation is ongoing.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Drugs

Colorado Governor: Legalizing Marijuana Was ‘Reckless’ Decision

Hickenlooper down in poll
Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper talks to media near the Colorado State Capitol in Denver, September 17, 2014. RJ Sangosti—Denver Post/ Getty Images

John Hickenlooper admonishes the 55% of his electorate that approved it

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called the legalization of marijuana a “reckless” decision, reaffirming his longstanding opposition to the vote that legalized the recreational use and sale of marijuana in 2012.

Hickenlooper, who is seeking re-election in November, initially hesitated to use the word “reckless” for a law that received backing from 55% of the electorate, the Durango Herald reports.

“I’m not saying it was reckless because I get quoted everywhere,” the Democratic incumbent said during a Monday debate with Republican challenger Bob Beauprez. “I opposed it from the very beginning,” he continued. “What the hell. I’ll say it was reckless.”

Hickenlooper has previously warned that the legalization of marijuana could have unintended consequences for public health and has previously vowed in an interview with the Durango Herald‘s editorial board to “regulate the living daylights out of it.”

[Durango Herald]

TIME Drugs

Police: 4-Year-Old Took Heroin to Day Care

(SELBYVILLE, Del.) — Delaware State Police say a 4-year-old girl took hundreds of packets of heroin to her day care center and began passing it out, thinking it was candy.

Police say several children who received the packets Monday went to the hospital as a precaution, but none of the packets were actually opened and all of the kids were released after being examined.

The girl’s mother, 30-year-old Ashley Tull of Selbyville, was charged with child endangerment and maintaining a drug property. She was arraigned Monday and released on $6,000 bond. She did not immediately return a call left at a home listing Tuesday.

Police say the girl unknowingly brought the heroin to the center when she switched backpacks. Police say the backpack contained nearly 250 packets of heroin, all labeled “Slam.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 3

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. With 3D printing, prosthetic technology is poised to change millions of lives.

By Tom McKay in Mic

2. Dysfunctional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security undermines its mission.

By Daniel Kaniewski in The Hill

3. The web isn’t killing newspapers. Print readership has been in decline for 20 years.

By Whet Moser in Chicago Magazine

4. Skyrocketing drug traffic has deeply affected life on Indian reservations at the US-Mexico border.

By Shannon Mizzi in Wilson Quarterly

5. With Chinese elites joining the movement, the protests in Hong Kong could yield a partial win.

By Zack Beauchamp in Vox

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Drugs

Heroin Deaths in the U.S. Have Doubled in 2 Years

Though fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers are down

Deaths in the U.S. from heroin overdoses doubled between 2010 and 2012 in the 28 states where data was available, according to a study published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The sharp increase in heroin-related deaths from 1.0 to 2.1 per 100,000 people held true for both men and women across all age groups and all races except for American Indians and Alaskan natives.

The rise in heroin overdose deaths from 1,779 to 3,665 comes as deaths from prescription painkillers like OxyContin—sometimes referred to as “hillbilly heroin”—have leveled off or fallen across much of the country in recent years, though they remain more common than heroin overdoses. Deaths from drug overdose in general have been increasing in the U.S. over the past 20 years.

heroin

Experts believe the increase in heroin deaths may be linked to a crackdown on abuse of prescription “opioid” painkillers, making the synthetic drugs more expensive at a time when heroin is flooding the market.

TIME Drugs

Colorado Court to Decide Whether Smoking Pot is a Fireable Offense

Brandon Coats
Brandon Coats works on his computer at his home in Denver on Dec. 6, 2012 Ed Andrieski—AP

A quadriplegic man who uses medical marijuana says he was unfairly dismissed from his job for partaking in a legal activity outside of work hours

Colorado’s Supreme Court is set to rule whether an employer can fire a worker for using medical marijuana, which is now legal in the state.

The court was due to hear arguments Tuesday in a case that will test the boundaries of state laws to legalize the substance. Both medical and recreational marijuana have been made legal in Colorado.

Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic user of medical marijuana, sued his former employer, Dish Network, for firing him in 2010 after a drug test came back positive for marijuana, Colorado Public Radio reports.

Coats maintains that he needs the drug to alleviate debilitating muscle spasms, and that he has struggled to find a steady job ever since being fired. His attorney cites a state law prohibiting employers from firing employees for legal activities outside of work, while Dish Network argues that marijuana remains a federally prohibited substance.

Neither the state’s medical marijuana law nor the statute permitting recreational marijuana use require employers to tolerate marijuana use, and lower courts have sided with the employer in the Coats case.

“There’s a lot of people out there like me who would like to have a job but cannot,” Coats said, according to Colorado Public Radio, “because their impairment requires them to use marijuana, and because marijuana’s looked down on for employment, they’re not able to get jobs,”

[CPR]

TIME medicine

Soon You Can Send Your Expired Painkillers Through the Mail

painkiller pills
Getty Images

The DEA has a new way to get rid of extra meds

How to get rid of leftover medication is a tricky question—keep it around and it can get into the wrong hands, but dispose of it improperly and you risk contaminating the environment.

That’s why in the past, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has held National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Last April, the DEA reported that it collected 780,000 pounds of prescription drugs, and during the event on Sept. 27, a single county in Virginia dropped off 1,200 pounds of drugs. But even though half a ton of drugs for one county is certainly a coup, it was the last event of its kind—because soon, through an innovative new program, Americans will be able to safely abandon their unused pills at any time.

The DEA first recognized the leftover pill problem because the Controlled Substances Act had no outlined provisions for how people could get rid of their unused or expired prescription drugs. According to the DEA, people would keep them in their medicine cabinets (which made it possible for them them to be abused), toss them in the trash or flush them down the toilet. The latter method was discovered to contaminate water supplies.

In 2010, the Drug Disposal Act gave the DEA the authority to create a framework for how the general public and facilities could dispose of prescription pills properly and safely. On Sept. 9 the regulations were approved, and the DEA says it will start implementing the plan in early October. The new regulations allow Americans to get rid of their excess drugs at pharmacies or police departments with drop-off receptacles. Patients will also be able to grab envelopes from places like hospitals that they can use to mail their pills to authorized collectors, who will make sure the pills are properly incinerated. “It will be more convenient because once these rules are implemented, then people can do it all the time,” a DEA spokesperson told TIME.

The number of Americans abusing prescription drugs has dropped in the last couple years, but the DEA says the 6.5 million people who reportedly abused prescription drugs in 2013 is double the number of people who use hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD and Ecstasy combined.

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