In response to a recent FDA advisory, CVS Pharmacy has announced it will remove select cold medicines containing the ingredient phenylephrine, which the FDA claims is ineffective. Specifically, CVS will eliminate products where phenylephrine is the sole active ingredient. This comes after the FDA’s acknowledgment last month that the compound, found in hundreds of cold remedies, may not be effective.
From the over 250 drugs containing phenylephrine listed on the National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus site, only four medicines—Children’s Sudafed PE Nasal Decongestant, PediaCare Children’s Decongestant, Sudafed PE Congestion, and Suphedrine PE—utilize phenylephrine as their only active ingredient. These are the products expected to be removed, although the pharmacy giant has versions of these medicines with additional active ingredients, which will presumably stay available. Some analysts speculate if medicines combining phenylephrine with painkillers might also be pulled, including popular brands like Advil Congestion Relief and Tylenol Sinus Congestion Pain. CVS, however, hasn’t clarified this speculation.
While the FDA has yet to require the removal of these products, Walgreens has stated that they will retain them on their shelves for the time being. For consumers seeking alternatives, medical professionals recommend medications with pseudoephedrine, available behind the pharmacy counter, or antihistamines such as Zyrtec and Claritin. Nasal sprays are also cited as effective replacements.
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