Popular Oral Anesthetics Have Been Linked to Methemoglobinemia

Manufacturers of the immensely popular local anesthetic benzocaine have become the target of intense public scrutiny. Recent studies suggest that the numbing medication may be associated with a rare but serious condition known as methemoglobinemia. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to consumers and the healthcare community regarding the use of over-the-counter liquids and gels that contain benzocaine and are used to reduce pain and discomfort.

Benzocaine is the active ingredient in a number of brand-name gels, lozenges, spray solutions and liquids that are intended to relieve minor pain and discomfort by blocking specific nerve signals in the body. Brand-name products like Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Orabase, as well as store brands are used to treat oral complications caused by teething, canker sores, and irritation of the mouth and gums.

Unfortunately, the FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients that they continue to receive reports of methemoglobinemia, a serious and potentially fatal adverse effect, associated with benzocaine products both as a spray, used during medical procedures to numb the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat.

The FDA reported on these adverse health effects in the following statement:

Methemoglobinemia is a rare, but serious condition in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced. In the most severe cases, methemoglobinemia can result in death. Patients who develop methemoglobinemia may experience signs and symptoms such as pale, gray or blue colored skin, lips, and nail beds; headache; lightheadedness; shortness of breath; fatigue; and rapid heart rate. Methemoglobinemia has been reported with all strengths of benzocaine gels and liquids, and cases occurred mainly in children aged two years or younger who were treated with benzocaine gel for teething. The signs and symptoms usually appear within minutes to hours of applying benzocaine and may occur with the first application of benzocaine or after additional use. The development of methemoglobinemia after treatment with benzocaine sprays may not be related to the amount applied. In many cases, methemoglobinemia was reported following the administration of a single benzocaine spray.

The FDA says benzocaine products should not be given to children younger than age 2 unless under the supervision of a health care professional. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving children with teething problems a teething ring that has been chilled in a refrigerator, or gently rubbing the child’s gums with a finger.

Do I Have A Benzocaine Lawsuit?

The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in benzocaine lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one has been injured by benzocaine, you should contact us immediately. You may be entitled to compensation and / or refund by participating in a class action lawsuit and we can help.