NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ: Benadryl is the latest brand to find itself front-and-center in a deadly social media craze.
The “Benadryl challenge,” which has taken off on TikTok, involves users daring each other to take large doses of the medicine. At least one teenager has reportedly died as a result.
Benadryl parent Johnson & Johnson has called the craze “extremely concerning and dangerous.” The company is warning consumers to stop participating immediately, noting that abuse or misuse of its medicine can lead to serious side effects with potentially long-lasting consequences.
“We are working with TikTok and our partners to do what we can to stop this dangerous trend, including the removal of content across social platforms that showcase this behavior,” J&J said.
In addition to updating its website on Thursday, J&J is partnering with industry, retail and coalition groups to educate parents, teens and healthcare professionals about the challenge.
"Collaboration and education are critical to putting an end to this dangerous misuse," a company spokesperson said.
The Benadryl challenge dates back to at least May, when TikTok learned about it and “quickly removed” related content, TikTok told media outlets.
“We've been keeping an eye on this topic since and removing any new content, which again has been in extremely small numbers, to prevent any spread on our platform,” a TikTok spokesperson said via email.
The spokesperson added that Benadryl challenge-related content has not trended on TikTok, adding that the app actively removes videos that violate guidelines and blocks related hashtags to discourage participation.
"The safety and well-being of our users is TikTok's top priority,” its spokesperson said.
The platform does not allow content that encourages, promotes or glorifies dangerous challenges that could lead to injury, according to its community guidelines.
“We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or off," the TikTok spokesperson said.
This isn’t the first dull-witted stunt named after a brand to go viral on social media.
In 2018, Procter & Gamble turned to NFL star Rob Gronkowski to make a video dissuading teens from participating in the Tide Pod Challenge. The broadly distributed video, which received more than 10 million views on Twitter, helped to slow down the ill-advised social media trend that involved people filming themselves eating Tide Pods.
Last year, Netflix horror movie Bird Box inspired people to share videos of themselves blindfolded, like the stars of the movie, attempting to complete tasks such as walking down stairs or driving.
This story was updated on September 3 with additional information.