Muscle remedy responsible for death of track star

June 18, 2007

The sudden death of a Staten Island, N.Y., high school track star was caused by the accidental overuse of OTC remedies to treat sore muscles and joints, according to the city medical examiner.

The sudden death of a Staten Island, N.Y., high school track star was caused by the accidental overuse of OTC remedies to treat sore muscles and joints, according to the city medical examiner. Arielle Newman, 17, died April 3 after her body absorbed lethal levels of methyl salicylate, a wintergreen scented ingredient found in sore muscle treatment products like BENGAY, Icy Hot, and Tiger Balm. The methyl salicylate likely caused a seizure after the teen went to bed. According to a spokeswoman for the medical examiner, 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 with the chemical. Johnson & Johnson, maker of BENGAY, issued this statement, "We express our deepest sympathy to the Newman family. BENGAY has been on the market since 1898 and is safe and effective when used as directed to provide relief from minor arthritis pain; sore, aching, and strained muscles; and backaches. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, the makers of BENGAY, feel it is important to remind consumers of the importance of reading the label on this and all over-the-counter medicines to ensure safe and proper use. As indicated on the Ultra Strength BENGAY label, consumers are reminded that the product should be applied to the affected area not more than three to four times daily and consumers should stop use and see a doctor if the condition worsens or if symptoms persist for more than seven days."

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