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See what products contain it

A Food and Drug Administration-assembled board of advisers has determined that the most popular decongestant ingredient on the market is not actually effective in treating nasal congestion.The group of experts gathered by the FDA unanimously voted on Tuesday, declaring ingredient phenylephrine to be no more effective than a placebo pill, reported the Associated Press.Phenylephrine can be found in most over-the-counter medications meant to target congestion, including name brands such as Sudafed, and Dayquil, and became the primary ingredient following a 2006 law limiting access to the older pseudoephedrine, which can be processed to create methamphetamine.The efficacy of phenylephrine administered orally to relieve nasal discomfort has been called into question multiple times in the past, including once in 2007. The FDA allowed the drugs to stay on store shelves at that time pending further research, but this week’s findings may finally prompt the organization to demand Johnson & Johnson, Bayer and other drugmakers to pull these oral medications completely, reported AP.While this outcome could lead to the FDA pulling phenylephrine from the federally approved list of pill and liquid decongestants, it is unlikely consumers will see an immediate impact, especially because the panel vote is a suggestion but not a binding agreement or determination.Even if the phenylephrine versions of these drugs remain on shelves for a while longer, more than one prior study has found that it offers no detectible benefit beyond what a placebo can provide.Here’s what phenylephrine is supposed to do.New COVID booster approved;When can I get the new COVID vaccine? Fresh shots OK’d by FDA to hit pharmaciesWhat is phenylephrine?Phenylephrine is a decongestant used to relieve nasal pressure and stuffiness often associated with a cold or allergies.It supposedly works by stimulating alpha-1 adrenergic receptors in the arteries, shrinking dilated blood vessels within the nose. This is meant to prevent fluid in the blood vessels from draining into the tissues lining the nose, reliving congestion, according to It can also be used to increase blood pressure when administered a certain way.Phenylephrine became the main drug in over-the-counter decongestants in 2006, when medicines with pseudoephedrine were moved behind the counter thanks to the use of pseudoephedrine in manufacturing methamphetamine.What common products have phenylephrine?Many products on the shelves are formulated to address multiple symptoms, such as cold and flu medications meant to treat fever and headache along with congestion. The presence of phenylephrine in these products does not impact the efficacy of other ingredients to treat other targeted symptoms.Sudafed PEMucinexSinexDayquilBenadrylTyenol sinusAdvil sinus congestionLusonalMany store brands such as Equate, Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, etc.Many of these products also offer multiple versions, some with phenylephrine and some with older ingredient pseudoephedrine, so always check the label for active ingredients.How to dose melatonin:How much melatonin should I take? Experts weigh in on dosage rules, how much is too much.What is the difference between pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine?The biggest difference between the two is that pseudoephedrine (PDE) has been proven effective in addressing congestion when taken orally, while phenylephrine (PE) has long since been an unproven form of treatment.According to, some primary reasons for this discrepancy include:They are metabolized differently, with only 40% of a dose of PE reaching the bloodstream after gut wall metabolization, whereas PDE is not absorbed the same way and about 100% of the dose enters the bloodstream.PE, unliked PDE, was approved by the FDA based not on results from clinical trials, but studies conducted by pharmaceutical companies themselves.Due to its ability to be processed into methamphetamine, PDE is more likely to be miscued than PE. While it is not addictive in and of itself, it does produce some central nervous system effects such as insomnia.PDE more often produces stimulating effects on the central nervous system, hence symptoms like insomnia. This is caused by its differing chemical structure from PE.



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