September 25, 2020, 5:25 PM
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Health officials have issued a new warning against abusing the allergy medicine Benadryl after reports emerged of a so-called "Benadryl challenge" gaining popularity on the app TikTok.
Reminiscent of the deadly "Tide Pod Challenge", the latest dangerous social media trend is encouraging young people to take higher-than-recommended doses of the over-the-counter drug whose generic name is diphenhydramine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned in a statement Thursday that this can lead to "serious heart problems, seizures, coma or even death."
"We are aware of news reports of teenagers ending up in emergency rooms or dying after participating in the 'Benadryl Challenge' encouraged in videos posted on the social media application TikTok," the agency added.
The statement said that the FDA contacted TikTok and "strongly urged them to remove the videos from their platform and to be vigilant to remove additional videos that may be posted."
Benadryl allergy medicine sits on a shelf at a pharmacy in Remington, Va., on Feb. 26, 2019.Benadryl allergy medicine sits on a shelf at a pharmacy in Remington, Va., on Feb. 26, 2019.
Moreover, the agency recommended that parents and caregivers store these medicines "away and out of children's reach and sight."
If someone has taken too much Benadryl and is hallucinating, can't be awakened, has a seizure, has trouble breathing, or has collapsed, the FDA warns to get them medical attention immediately or contact the poison control center at: 1-800-222-1222.
At least one death has been reportedly linked to the challenge, according to local media reports in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
TikTok said that the hashtag for the challenge has been blocked from search on the app and has been for months, instead directing users to their Community Guidelines.
"The safety and well-being of our users is TikTok's top priority," a company spokesperson told ABC News in a statement.
"As we make clear in our Community Guidelines, we do not allow content that encourages, promotes, or glorifies dangerous challenges that might lead to injury," the spokesperson added. "Though we have not seen this content trend on our platform, we actively remove content that violates our guidelines and block related hashtags to further discourage participation. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or off."
Johnson and Johnson, the producer of Benadryl, also responded to the online challenge, saying it is "a dangerous trend and should be stopped immediately."
"Collaboration and education are critical to putting an end to this dangerous misuse," the company said, adding that it is working with TikTok and other online platforms to remove content that showcases this behavior.
"We will look to partner across industry and with key stakeholders to address this dangerous behavior," the drugmaker added.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York will "review" a potential COVID-19 vaccine over fears of a politicized process -- despite a number of assurances from the nation’s top health officials.
"The first question is, is the vaccine safe? Frankly, I'm not going to trust the federal government's opinion and I wouldn't recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government's opinion," Cuomo said at a press conference on Thursday
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"New York state will have its own review when the federal government has finished with their review and says it’s safe," he said, announcing a panel headed by the state's Department of Health. “We’re going to put together a group for them to review the vaccine so I can look at the camera and I can say to New Yorkers that it’s safe to take -- I want to make sure we know it's safe to take."
It is unclear how long such a process would take, but The New York Times reports that it could theoretically lead to a delay in distribution in the state.
Cuomo is tapping into recent fears by a number of top Democrats that President Trump or members of his administration will seek to politicize the vaccine, possibly by rushing it out of the door to get it distributed before Nov. 3.
They are fears that have been echoed by both Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.
“We can’t allow politics to interfere with the vaccine in any way,” Biden said last week. “Americans have had to endure President Trump’s incompetence and dishonesty when it comes to testing and personal protective equipment. We can’t afford to repeat those fiascos when it comes to a vaccine, when it occurs. The stakes are too high.”
Harris has predicted that public health experts will "be muzzled, they’ll be suppressed, they will be sidelined, because he’s looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days, and he’s grasping for whatever he can get to pretend that he’s been a leader on this issue when he’s not."
BIDEN, HARRIS CONCERNS ABOUT TRUMP INTERFERENCE IN CORONAVIRUS VACCINE NOT SHARED BY TOP HEALTH EXPERTS
When asked whether she would get a hypothetical pre-election vaccine, she said: "Well, I think that’s going to be an issue for all of us. I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and reliability of whatever he is talking about, I will not take his word for it."
Officials have pushed back furiously against the idea that politics could undermine the safety of a vaccine, as they have sought to assure the public about a vaccine despite the fears being voiced by top Democrats.
On Wednesday, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the agency "will not authorize or approve a vaccine that we would not feel comfortable giving to our families."
"FDA will not authorize or approve any Covid-19 vaccine before it has met the agency's rigorous expectations for safety and effectiveness," he said. "Decisions to authorize or approve any such vaccine or therapeutic will be made by the dedicated career staff at FDA, through our thorough review processes, and science will guide our decisions."
"FDA will not permit any pressure from anyone to change that," he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top disease specialist in the country, said earlier this month that he was “not concerned about political pressure." On Fox News’ "Daily Briefing," he said that he would not be “muzzled” and noted that trials have been put on hold when there was an adverse event.
"The process that's going on in trying to prove the safety and the efficacy of a number of vaccines is a sound process,” he said. "I have faith in it, there are outside boards, data and safety monitoring boards, there are committees that advise the FDA about this, so I have confidence that things are going to be done in a scientifically sound manner."
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, on MSNBC earlier this month, assured viewers that there would not be “shortcuts” in safety and efficacy assessments and that “there are multiple different layers of oversight of this to make sure that nothing gets pushed through unless it meets the highest standards, probably the highest standards that ever have been applied for a vaccine are going to be applied in this situation.”
But Democrats aren’t the only ones to be warning about the politicization of the vaccine process.
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Trump hinted on Wednesday that he believes that the process is being politicized in a different direction when asked about reports that the FDA is considering stricter guidelines for emergency authorization of the virus.
“Well, I’ll tell you what, we’re looking at that, and that has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it. That sounds like a political move,” he said.
Dr. Joseph Yi works with high-achieving entrepreneurs to advance their mental and physical health.Provided
Entrepreneurship is stressful in the best of times, but when you’re also dealing with worries about your own and loved ones’ health, financial uncertainty, and the intensity of an election year—well, it’s easy to understand why health organizations and crisis phone lines are reporting up to eight times higher rates of people reaching out for help.
Part of this, of course, is because regular mental health services have been harder to obtain during quarantine. There are a number of reasons for this—loss of disposable income, concern about the safety of going into a therapist’s office, or an inability to access telehealth services, among others. Entrepreneurs, in particular, may be more likely to deprioritize mental health services due to the pressure of keeping their businesses afloat during this pandemic.
As a parent, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and CEO myself, I’m living under the same stresses that so many of my friends and colleagues are dealing with. And while I’m a firm believer that getting mental health support should never be deprioritized, there is a lot to be said for doing whatever you can to support your mental health at home.
To get some tips, I spoke recently with Dr. Joseph Yi, a Board Certified Addiction Psychiatrist who specializes in Holistic Psychiatry and Detoxification. He’s an entrepreneur himself—founder of his clinic, Modern Behavioral—and a practitioner of holistic psychiatry. He shared some of the most important tips that he offers his patients, especially during this time of added external stress.
1. First and foremost, listen to what your body is telling you. The body is in constant communication with us. Unfortunately, our body doesn’t speak our language and the only way to get a message across to our minds is through symptoms. Just because you’re not feeling comfortable does not necessarily mean you have a disorder. Your body could be dehydrated, malnourished, lacking sleep and exercise or just feeling horrible because you’re surrounded by a lot of toxic people.
2. Sleep right. Invest energy into getting enough quality sleep. The human mind requires about 6 to 9 hours of sleep nightly. Ideally, we should be targeting 8 hours for optimal brain performance. If sleep goes, everything else goes too. Be sure to invest energy into sleep.
3. Eat right. We are not what we eat—instead we are what we ate. Our body is composed of fat, protein, water and minerals. No one diet fits all, but universally we must make a greater conscious effort to cut down on the fake processed foods (those that come packaged in a box) and eat more real foods that grow from the earth.
4. Exercise right. Move it or lose it. Our body was meant to move and either we use it or lose it. With tremendous advancements in technology we have conditioned ourselves to do almost anything with a smartphone at the comfort of our home. Exercise at least three times a week, for 30 minutes per workout, to become more productive and efficient with your work life.
5. Connect right. Maintain connections with loved ones and yourself. With social distancing and the ongoing mask debates more and more of us are feeling isolated. All humans have a psychological need to connect with others. It is literally impossible to be successful in life without mastering the art of connection. If you are struggling to engage with others due to the recent pandemic, at the very least make time daily to connect with yourself, or to a higher power.
6. Stimulate the mind right. The opposite of depression is fun. We often get too consumed with our work life and forget the fact that the human mind has a need to collect new experiences. If you’re making tons of money from your business but not experiencing enough joy and laughter, you can’t honestly describe yourself as successful.
Wondering where to start? Dr. Yi says that eating, sleeping, exercising, and connecting with others are the key most important factors for creating meaningful change in his client’s’ lives. “It’s either you're all in or not,” he says. “Doing three of the four will not create a sustainable system for a healthy mindset. For example, a person can be eating right, exercising and connecting with the right people, however, if they do not sleep well then everything else goes down the drain.”
The pandemic is taking a toll on all of us, no matter how well we’re adapting to this new—well, not so new anymore—normal. Taking conscious steps daily to stay in good shape mentally is one of the greatest gifts you can give your business, yourself, and your loved ones.