Candy in pill bottle raises eyebrows for some after Faith parade

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2013

FAITH — During the Faith Fourth parade Thursday morning, Heather Hobart was startled when her 4-year-old son came up to her holding a blue pill bottle.
Someone in the parade had tossed it into the front yard of Hobart’s father’s house on Rainey Road, where her family gathers every year to watch the floats line up.
When Hobart took the bottle from her son and looked closer, she realized it was filled with Skittles. The label was an advertisement for Price Pharmacy.
Hobart, an in-home health aide with a Gold Hill address, said she had taught her son to come to her if he finds something that looks like medicine or loose candy.
She said Friday she’s concerned the ad might give other children a dangerous idea.
“To me, that’s promoting to children that they can get into prescription bottles for candy,” she said.
The bottle is blue, not orange like most prescription bottles, but it has the same familiar shape and comes with a “push and turn” safety cap. Hobart said that could teach children how to open child-proof medicine bottles.
A better idea, she said, would have been to put the candy in little bags along with a business card or pamphlet.
Andy Caudill, pharmacist and co-owner of Price Pharmacy, said the pharmacy had “weighed the pros and cons” of the Skittles-filled bottle.
He said they ended up giving out two types of items — loose candy that was thrown to children and prescription bottles that were handed and tossed to adults.
Employees walking alongside the float targeted seniors, Caudill said, who would be most likely to use the services listed on the label.
“We would never do anything to put children into harm’s way,” he said. “We were just trying to come up with a creative way to show our business and the services that we offer.”
Caudill said the pharmacy wanted to get the word out about its new Rockwell location that opened in April.
According to the label, a prescription for “Qty: 30 Skittles” is written to “Price Pharmacy Friend” by “Dr. Feelgood.”
Where dosage instructions are normally printed, the bottle advertises the pharmacy’s free delivery, $4 generics and drive-through service. The business’ address and phone number are also listed.

Candy-tossing is a crowd-pleasing tradition at the Faith Fourth parade.
Randall Barger, a member of the Faith Fourth organizing committee, said officials have told people not to throw certain items, like water bottles.
But he said he doesn’t think Price Pharmacy was doing anything wrong.
“They were giving them out by hand to adults,” Barger said. “They’re new to Granite Quarry, and they’re trying to help the community. … There are tons of things going on to complain about, but not a blue pill bottle.”
But Hobart and her neighbor, Tina Goins, said the bottles were thrown toward both adults and children.
Goins said she was also watching the parade on Rainey Street when her 5-year-old son, David, grabbed a bottle that had been thrown to the ground next to him.
“I snatched it from him,” Goins said. “I think it’s wrong. It teaches kids that if you see a pill bottle, it’s got candy in it.”
Goins said her nephew saw bottles being tossed to the crowd on Main Street, too.
On Thursday morning, Price Pharmacy’s parade float featured someone dressed in a pill costume waving to the crowd. Colored tinsel formed the shape of a large American flag.
Caudill said the response he’s gotten about the float has been “incredible,” and Hobart’s complaint was the only one he had heard by Friday afternoon.
“I’m parent, too, so I understand where she’s coming from,” Caudill said. “But as a parent, I understand the importance of child-proof caps and keeping medication where children can’t reach it.”
He said the pharmacy will flavor liquid medicine for children to make it taste like a sweet treat.
“Even if a child thinks it is candy,” he said, “they should not be able to reach it.”

Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.