In case of nasal congestion due to a severe cold or allergy, many people purchase well-known over-the-counter medications. However, according to an advisory group of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a commonly used decongestant in these products is simply ineffective. The experts unanimously came to this conclusion.
The ingredient, phenylephrine, is at risk of being banned by the American agency through voting.
The FDA will have to decide whether products containing this ingredient, such as certain Sudafed or NyQuil products, should be discontinued or if their manufacturers should be given time to replace it with other ingredients.
However, according to a trade group, removing all products containing phenylephrine from the shelves risks causing shortages. Cold and flu medicines such as Tylenol, Benadryl, and Mucinex contain it.
This week, the FDA expert group reviewed several existing studies and decreed that the research had determined the ingredient to be useless and no better than a placebo.
In addition to not helping relieve patients, this ingredient delays them in their search for an effective treatment.
However, phenylephrine is still considered effective as a nasal spray, or when used in surgery, or to dilate the eyes.
Phenylephrine is an effective vasoconstrictor (which narrows blood vessels) when administered directly into the nose or eyes. However, when taken orally, it is metabolized by the digestive system and loses its effectiveness.