Adverse events (AE), including death, occur in children with benzonatate use. This study aims to understand recent trends in benzonatate exposure and clinical consequences in pediatric patients.


This retrospective analysis of data from IQVIA pharmacy drug dispensing, National Poison Data System, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance Project, FDA Adverse Event Reporting System, and the medical literature evaluated exposure trends and medication-related AEs with benzonatate. Trends for comparator narcotic and nonnarcotic antitussive medications were analyzed where possible for context.


During the study period, pediatric benzonatate prescription utilization increased but remained low compared with pediatric utilization of dextromethorphan-containing prescription antitussive medications. Among the 4689 pediatric benzonatate exposure cases reported to US poison control centers from 2010 to 2018, 3727 cases (80%) were for single-substance exposures. Of these, 3590 cases (77%) were unintentional exposures and most involved children 0 to 5 years old (2718 cases, 83%). Cases involving intentional benzonatate exposure increased among children 10 to 16 years old with a more pronounced increase for multiple-substance exposures. Most benzonatate cases involving misuse or abuse were for children 10 to 16 years old (59 cases, 61%). The proportion of cases with serious adverse effects was low. There were few cases annually of serious AEs with benzonatate in children.


There were rising patterns of unintentional ingestion of benzonatate in children 0 to 5 years old and intentional benzonatate ingestion in children 10 to 16 years old. Rational prescribing and improved provider and caregiver awareness of benzonatate toxic effects may reduce risks associated with benzonatate exposure.

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