Benzocaine is a topical pain reliever and local anesthetic. It is also commonly found in cough drops. The drug has been around since the late 1800’s to treat any variety of mild pain from earaches to toothaches. The drug is generally safe but has been known to cause allergic reactions and a condition known as methemoglobinemia. Lawsuits have commenced against makers of the over-the-counter oral anesthetic Orajel which contains Benzocaine.
Benzocaine is a centuries-old local anesthetic available over-the-counter in the United States. It provides temporary relief for pain associated with swimmer’s ear, toothaches and various minor pains in nearly any area of the body. Benzocaine is also used to treat oral ulcers and canker sores. It is commonly marketed in products like Blistex, Orajel, Anbesol ointment and Auralgan (for ear pain).
Some patients have reported allergic reactions to Benzocaine. In addition, Benzocaine is also linked to the blood condition known as methemoglobinemia. This disorder causes oxidation of hemoglobin giving it a strong affinity for oxygen. However, this condition rarely occurs absent excessive, long-term use of the drug.
Lawsuits have commenced against the makers of Orajel, an over-the-counter product containing Benzocaine. The FDA released a warning relating to Benzocaine in April 2011 and continues to closely monitor all Benzocaine products. Use of Orajel in babies has lead to an increased risk of SIDS. Babies are often given the drug to ease the pain of teething.
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