Archive for November 8th, 2006

The Danger of Nasal Decongestants

November 8, 2006

images.jpgIt’s the cold season and your family may have contracted the virus spreading around your house.  The problem then comes when with nasal congestion where the usual reflex is to grab an over the counter drug decongestant.

Certain decongestants have already been pulled out in the US market due to the bad side effect profile.  I thought of writing this post to warn the readers after my wife was taking decongestants 2 x a day in the past 2 days due to congested nose.  Interestingly, the drug contained the banned substance but still being sold in our country is really amazing!

Here’s an FDA Fact sheet on this banned substance called Phenylpropanolamine:

What is phenylpropanolamine?Phenylpropanolamine is an ingredient used in prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug products as a nasal decongestant to relieve stuffy nose or sinus congestion and in OTC weight control drug products to control appetite.

Why is phenylpropanolamine unsafe when this product has been in use for many years?

On May 11, 2000, FDA received results of a study conducted by scientists at Yale University School of Medicine that showed an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding of the brain) in people who were taking phenylpropanolamine. Phenylpropanolamine has been used for many years and a very small number of people taking the drug have had strokes. The Yale study helped show that the number of people having strokes when taking phenylpropanolamine was greater than the number of people having strokes who were not taking phenylpropanolamine. Although the risk of hemorrhagic stroke is very low, FDA has significant concerns because of the seriousness of a stroke and the inability to predict who is at risk. Because of continued reports to the FDA of hemorrhagic stroke associated with phenylpropanolamine and the results of the Yale study, we now feel that the risks of using phenylpropanolamine outweigh the benefits and recommend that consumers no longer use products containing phenylpropanolamine.

Are there any population groups at higher risk when using products containing phenylpropanolamine?

The Yale University study showed that the risk of hemorrhagic stroke was found mostly in women; however, men may also be at risk.

What types of products contain phenylpropanolamine?

Phenylpropanolamine is found in some prescription and OTC nasal decongestants and cough/cold products and OTC products for weight control.

So before you grab another tablet of a decongestant…be sure it does not contain the label”phenylpropanolamine”!

Be Safe…Always Read The Label !