This is just so disturbing on a number of levels: McNeil Consumer Healthcare has released a new version of its popular Children’s Tylenol pain reliever that includes a set of flavor packets that let children produce the flavor they’d prefer for the medicine. One Web site reports that the package includes “a bag full of tiny packets filled with powdered “crystals” representing four different flavors: Strawberry, green apple, bubble gum and chocolate.”
On one level, it’s not a bad idea since most medicine tends to either taste yechy or is cloyingly sweet and syrupy, but what bothers me is that any time you make medicine seem more like candy, surprise, children think that it is candy.
This is the problem we have with our children and cough drops: all of them are only partially convinced when we say “they’re medicine, not candy”, and the baby is sure we’re lying because they’re so yummy.
Have you looked at cough drops recently? Sure enough, they’re now packaged and flavored as if they were hard candy, not medicine. I’m not talking about the menthol and eucalyptus flavors that us big folk might prefer when we’re feeling a bit under the weather, but flavors like orange, black cherry, cherry, and “tropical fruit”.
Heck, Hall’s popular line of cough drops includes mint, ginger-grapefruit, strawberry, blueberry and even their “Fruitables” line that they proudly describe as “liquid-centre soothing candies with real fruit juice”. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Maybe I’m just grumbly tonight, but I just think this trend of making medicine seem more and more pleasant, to have medicines that integrate invisibly into our daily foodstuffs, is a real danger and threat, particularly to children, more than anything.
Even adults can find themselves tossing an “extra strong spearmint” cough drop rather than an Altoid or even a quick brushing of their teeth. Over time, medicines end up less effective too, yet another problem.
I can easily imagine a sick child gets to use the flavor packets with the new Children’s Tylenol and thinking “hey, cool”. Next time Mom’s busy, the flavor packets get pulled out of the medicine cabinet, probably with the Tylenol itself, and next thing you know, your child’s drunk the entire bottle as part of some gastronomic experiment.
Children’s Tylenol with Flavor Creator Packets isn’t widely distributed, but you can buy it from Drugstore.com for $9.49 per unit, if you’re curious. But would you buy this for your children?