FDA Issues Warning Over Deadly Social Media Challenge

By Jason Hall

September 20, 2022

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning over the latest deadly trend gaining popularity on social media.

The agency said a new social media challenge is encouraging followers to misuse nonprescription medications.

"One social media trend relying on peer pressure is online video clips of people misusing nonprescription medications and encouraging viewers to do so too. These video challenges, which often target youths, can harm people — and even cause death," the FDA stated in a warning published on its website last week. "Nonprescription (also called over-the-counter or OTC) drugs are readily available in many homes, making these challenges even more risky. OTC drugs can pose significant risks if they’re misused or abused."

The warning comes months after a popular TikTok trend in which users cooked chicken in a mixture of ingredients used in NyQuil and other similar cold medicine products.

The FDA said boiling a medication could "make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways."

"Even if you don’t eat the chicken, inhaling the medication’s vapors while cooking could cause high levels of the drugs to enter your body," the warning states. "It could also hurt your lungs. Put simply: Someone could take a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medicine without even realizing it."

The FDA had previously issued a warning in relation to a TikTok trend in which users had taken "higher than recommended doses" of the popular nonprescription allergy medicine diphenhydramine (Benadryl), which it said could cause "serious heart problems, seizures, coma or even death."

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