MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A college in Myrtle Beach has apologized after a faculty member distributed pill bottles filled with candy to kids at an event last weekend.
According to officials from Horry Georgetown Technical College, a faculty member promoted her medical technology program by distributing pharmaceutical bottles filled with M&M's at a family event over the weekend. The bottles' prescription labels were made out to “A Great Kid,” and described the candy as “Happy Pills.” The directions on the bottles were: “Take 1 m & m every 2 to 4 hours… may refill 5 times by 2/13/2016.”
Tiffany Myers said her son received one of those bottles at the Family Fun Run Friday.
"The fact that the message said happy pills and actually contained candy in the medicine bottles that was kind of concerning as parents to small children," Myers said. "I know they had good intentions, but maybe it should've been handled in a different way."
Myers' husband is a firefighter and paramedic, so the family is extra aware of the dangers of children getting into prescription medicine.
"He comes across children that get into medicine bottles quite frequently and it can be very damaging or it can be life-threatening," she said.
Dr. Dennis Rhoades, of Doctors Care, said 40% of Poison Control's calls every year are for children who have ingested their family's medicine. He said children often confuse pills with candy because they're similar in shape and color.
"It's one of those situations where stop and think who are you giving those bottles to, you're giving them to children and it has candy in it and it's like gosh, that's one thing we've been trying to prevent for years, children thinking that medication is candy," Dr. Rhoades said.
On Monday morning, HGTC released a statement on Facebook that reads in part:
“We have heard from several concerned parents that a faculty member promoting her medical technology program at Horry Georgetown Technical College filled pharmaceutical bottles with M&M candy and distributed them to children at a public event over the weekend.
“While we know this professor meant the candy to serve as a treat, the method of distribution may have confused pre-school children whose parents have taught them not to take pills from pharmaceutical bottles. The college administration deeply apologizes for the distress and confusion this action may have caused and seeks your forgiveness for our thoughtlessness. We regret further that professors and administrators are human and, although eager to share information about growing careers, sometimes make mistakes. This particular mistake will not occur again.”
The college also stated they stand firmly against improper drug use, and will be hosting several presentations this month about recovery from drug and alcohol dependency. Meredith Baxter, who played the mother in the sitcom “Family Ties” will be speaking at the Conway campus during the first of the three presentations.