FanDuel - WFBC

June 11, 2007

Muscle-rub blamed for athlete's death: Seventeen year old Arielle Newman's death, in April of this year, was the result of overdosing on methyl salicylate. This is a common ingredient of muscle rubs that are designed to help ease muscle ache.

In addition to spreading the muscle cream on her legs between track meets, Newman was using adhesive pads containing the anti-inflammatory, plus an unspecified third product containing the chemical, Borakove said. Source

posted by Fence to general at 02:27 PM - 22 comments

I always knew that supplements etc could be dangerous, but the idea that a cream like this could have such an effect? I guess the lesson is to always read the label.

posted by Fence at 02:28 PM on June 11

"doses of less than 1 teaspoonful have been deadly in small children." This is true only if you take methyl salicylate internally. Toxicity from external use if extremely rare. This is a really sad case. It's too bad a trainer or coach didn't notice and advise her on how to use the product safely.

posted by BikeNut at 05:23 PM on June 11

Label may not help. You'd think it was common sense and they don't need to put "DO NOT COVER YOUR ENTIRE BODY WITH THIS" in giant letters on the packaging. Apparently they should. Cases like this are why everything we see today is covered with such patronising warnings. (Like the trouser press that tells you not to press them while wearing them.) Sad to read about the death, but honestly, a bit of common sense would have prevented it. Whether it's prescribed or over the counter, it's still medication and the warnings and instructions are there for a reason, regardless of whether you take it orally, anally or spread it on your skin. Of course at age 17, none of us have an abundance of common sense in my experience. (God knows I didn't.)

posted by Drood at 05:28 PM on June 11

Again, where are the parents, coaches, etc. With the Bonds issue and "creams, lotions, etc" you would think it would raise questions. Like, you are 17 and you shouldn't have to bath yourself with creams and lotions and icy hot, etc. I wouldn't be suprised if the family sues Shaq cause he makes so things look so cool to wear.

posted by warstda at 07:52 AM on June 12

I don't think this is a common sense issue. Before this case, I would assume that the worst case scenario for using too much Ben Gay would be a nasty rash. I never realized that it was absorbing aspirin into your blood stream. Her parents and coaches probably didn't realize that either. So, a warning to that effect would certainly be helpful. Still, this is very rare and people who use lots of Ben Gay do not die normally. Perhaps her body was absorbing it a higher rate than most people do.

posted by bperk at 09:00 AM on June 12

What bperk said. Really, Ben-Gay? I always assumed it was an irritant and that was about it.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:35 AM on June 12

I'm certain there's a lawsuit in here somewhere. Who knew that Ben Gay is a stone cold killer? Raise your hand... No one? Yeah - me too.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:46 AM on June 12

So what are we suppose to do? Have our skin checked for "absorbsion rate" before applying.

posted by rockyxgone at 11:41 AM on June 12

I'm certain there's a lawsuit in here somewhere. Except, of course, they specify right on the box/tube how to use the product, and make a point about not overusing it and consulting a doctor if you feel the need to use it more than recommended. I'm sorry that a young girl died from using this product, but it's not the fault of the manufacturers. It's natural for the parents to look for blame and to lash out when a child dies unexpectedly (Josh Hancock's father has filed suit against A LOT of people for his son's drunk driving death), but that doesn't mean it WAS someone else's fault.

posted by grum@work at 11:43 AM on June 12

I'm sorry that a young girl died from using this product, but it's not the fault of the manufacturers. That depends on whether it is reasonably foreseeable that the product would be used as she used it. Since we don't really know how much or how often she was using it, then we can't really tell. Further, if the maximum strength Ben-Gay is more dangerous than the regular stuff for no good reason or without adequate warning that death can occur, they could be liable.

posted by bperk at 12:00 PM on June 12

The article does mention though that she was using more than one type of product. Most warnings do say something about consulting a physician before using if you are already using something else.

posted by MrFrisby at 01:01 PM on June 12

However, I do not see that warning on this product.

posted by MrFrisby at 01:08 PM on June 12

MrFrisby, I see two warnings on label that may have played into this case. When using this product, do not bandage tightly - she reportedly was using the cream under "adhesive pads". Stop use and consult a doctor if symptoms persist for more than 7 days - she reportedly has been using the cream for an extended period. No manufacturer can anticipate every way that a consumer can potentially misuse their product. Common sense has to come into play. I'm sure her parents will sue and I won't be surprised if they get a big settlement. And as a result of this and similar lawsuits, we all pay more for products we buy every day because manufacturers need to factor the risk of a lawsuit into the cost of doing business. I'm truly sorry this girl died, but she, her parents, coaches, trainers, and others need to take some responsiblity for their actions.

posted by BikeNut at 01:48 PM on June 12

Except, of course, they specify right on the box/tube how to use the product, and make a point about not overusing it and consulting a doctor if you feel the need to use it more than recommended. Much like signing a waiver, this does not necessary absolve culpability or liability. Writing on the box is not a catch-all. Especially for something over the counter. (i.e. Does the label say that "you shouldn't rub it under bandages and consult your doctor for more than the recommended use or does it say "you run the risk of dying if you don't closely monitor these signs which indicate overuse." Very different.) I'm all for personal responsibility - but there's a difference between percieved safety here. She didn't ride a bike without a helmet, or eat 40 Asprin. She used the product in a seemingly close approximation of it's use. She rubbed it on her sore muscles. She rubbed too much on and under bandages. The perception is that the product is safe.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:22 PM on June 12

Corporate lawyers usually insist on adequate warnings on products that often result in ridicule for all the "may cause ...." scenarios that they cover. This results in a general lack of credibility by the public and they disregard the warnings. A fundamental tenet of toxicology is that everything is lethal at some dose (including water) or "the dose makes the poison". The specific chemical, the route of exposure and length of exposure all factor into this and product warnings usually are conservative when taking this into account. Very unfortunate for the victim in this case but the only general lesson I can see from this is the time-worn (yet true) expression, "everything in moderation".

posted by 1959Giants at 04:39 PM on June 12

Much like signing a waiver, this does not necessary absolve culpability or liability. Writing on the box is not a catch-all. There has to be a limitation to what you have to warn people about, otherwise you'll end up with packaging (or package inserts) the size of small cars: - Do not rub product on eyeballs. - Do not rub product on open wounds. - Do not rub product on open orifices, including anus, penis, vagina, mouth, nostrils, ear canals, or tear ducts. - Do not smear entire contents of tube on body. - Do not use put more than one layer of application on any one area. - Do not use product as hors d'ourve topping - Do not use product as sexual lubricant. - Do not insert tube into mouth. - Do not chop up tube and eat it like candy. - etc. She rubbed too much on and under bandages. The perception is that the product is safe. The product is safe. Her disregard for the instructions and 1959Giants' point (the dose makes the poison) is what killed her. We aren't talking about thalidomide, here. How many people have died from using this product (following the instructions or not)? How many people have used this product according to the instructions? There has to be a certain percentage where the manufacturer can't be held liable for injury caused by misuse of the product. What's next? Warning labels on books because the pages might cause a lethal paper cut when dragged across someone's wrists multiple times?

posted by grum@work at 05:12 PM on June 12

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball. Happy Fun Ball may stick to certain types of skin. Happy Fun Ball Contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at. If Happy Fun Ball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.

posted by jerseygirl at 05:32 PM on June 12

What's next? Warning labels on books because the pages might cause a lethal paper cut when dragged across someone's wrists multiple times? No. The fact that someone, this girl, can overdose in this fashion is alarming. No one is suggesting that you need to list the multiple ways that something can hurt you is in any way a solution. That's ridiculous. The problem appears to be not just with the girl's misuse, but in the product itself. All those things you list are completely outside the actual and implied use of the product. The girl didn't head herself in the head with the box, or drink the damn cream. No. The misuse was in volume. Not the same thing. There has to be a certain percentage where the manufacturer can't be held liable for injury caused by misuse of the product. There is. I'm suggesting that there is a case to made that in this instance - that doesn't necessarily as easily apply. In the same way we expect individuals to be responsible for their actions, why can't we hold corporations to be responsible for producing safe products, in cases like these? And we do. That fact that she killed herself in this way - maybe this product needs to be looked at more closely. Maybe in less doses it's not killing people, but causing some other as yet unidentified harm. Maybe we yet don't know these things. Maybe the FDA fucked up. Maybe, the girl's "stupidity" isn't the only factor in her death. A fundamental tenet of toxicology is that everything is lethal at some dose (including water) or "the dose makes the poison". The specific chemical, the route of exposure and length of exposure all factor into this and product warnings usually are conservative when taking this into account. I agree. We should know this. Especially if it's a steep learning curve. So, how much is really too much? What is the lethal tipping point for Ben Gay? I'm not saying sue. I'm saying "Holy shit! Ben Gay can kill you! And not just if you drink it, or rub it in your eyes, or mix it with Diet Coke and Mentos!"

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:08 PM on June 12

What's next? Warning labels on books because the pages might cause a lethal paper cut when dragged across someone's wrists multiple times? For pete's sake. Down, not across.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:43 PM on June 12

Do not rub product on open orifices, including anus, penis, vagina, mouth, nostrils, ear canals, or tear ducts. A variation of this warning should be on Pop Rocks. Seriously.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 09:56 PM on June 12

From a tube of IcyHot: "Directions: Apply GENEROUSLY to painful muscles and joints until IcyHot disappears. REPEAT as necessary for temporary relief..." I always thought that my shampoo bottle told me to rinse, lather and repeat so that they could make more money. It has never been necessary for me to repeat. But if I did find it necessary, I wouldn't expect it to kill me. I would have considered a muscle rub to be in the same category as shampoo...harmless when used as directed. I wouldn't swallow IcyHot because it doesn't taste as good as lead paint. I would, however, use it for eight days without consulting a physician even though the label tells me to stop after seven. I guess I need to take my IcyHot a little more seriously. I just wouldn't have ever guessed that it could kill someone. And for what it's worth...If Happy Funball begins to smoke...you've been screwed.

posted by tselson at 11:29 PM on June 12

I feel really bad for her team parents and friends that she had to die like this at such a young age she just tried to help her muscles stop aching.

posted by i_love_me1994 at 10:57 AM on June 22

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