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Magentic Toy Maker Sued by Consumer Product Safety Commission for Continuing to Sell Product

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has sued Maxfield & Oberton for continuing to sell their high-powered magentic “desk toys” called Buckyballs and Buckycubes, after reports that children have swallowed the magnets. Accidental ingestion of the magnets have caused multiple surgeries and lengthy hospitalizations for some children as the magnets can pierce holes in the intestines.

An article on CNN.com reports that although the CPSC is doing this to keep children safe, the makers of the magnet desk toys feel they have provided enough warning labels on their product, noting that the toys are marketed to “adults age 14 and above.”

Andrew Frank, a spokesman for Maxfield & Oberton, is quoted in the article as saying, “There are a half a billion magnets out there, and unfortunately there are some people who have misused the product.” Instruction that accompany the products include warnings to keep the magnets away from children, adn the company’s website has warnings posted next to the images of the products.

The article notes that in June, pediatric gastroenterologists met with the CPSC to provide the results of an informal survey. Thirty-four physicians reported 82 cases of high-powered magent ingestions, most in children under the age of five. In 26 cases, surgery was required to remove the magnets and nearly all surgeries required some type of endoscopy procedure.

Scott Wolfon, a spokesman for the CPSC, explained, “We have worked with the company over the years. We did a recall with them in 2010. Yet the injuries still happened. In 2011 we worked with them on the education of consumers. Incidents still happened. So we’ve reached a point where we really do need to take stronger action, which we’re doing. We’re filing a lawsuit.” The last time the CPSC filed a similar administrative complaint was 11 years ago agains the maker of BB guns.

We know the economy is still struggling and that manufacturers are also struggling to make a profit. But when it comes at the expense of our health or possible harm to our children, it is good to know the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission is on our side. We applaud the efforts of the CPSC to stop the sale of these magnetic desk toys and to keep our children safe. We’ll continue to monitor the next steps in this case.