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Ineffective decongestants could be pulled from shelves, surgeon says

Pediatric Airway Surgeon Dr. Susannah Hills tells Scripps News it's likely products like Dayquil will be pulled from circulation.
Ineffective decongestants could be pulled from shelves, surgeon says
Posted at 11:12 PM, Sep 12, 2023

The Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that nasal decongestants like Dayquil and Allegra don't work the way they're intended to.

FDA testing found that even high doses of the active ingredient phenylephrine didn't reduce swelling in blood vessels in the nose and ears.

As such, the FDA might take ineffective drugs off the market.

Scripps News spoke with Pediatric Airway Surgeon Dr. Susannah Hills about the findings.

SEE MORE: Decongestant pills like Dayquil and Sudafed don't work, FDA panel says

Will these decongestants disappear?

"I think it's highly likely they will be pulled from the shelves. I've never been a big fan of recommending them. I think they probably should be pulled from the shelves at this point," Hills said. "We can see from the data we have — and we have good data from studies that have been done since 2016 — that they really don't help at all, but they can cause significant side effects. They can cause spikes in blood pressure if not used correctly. They can be illegally processed into methamphetamine. So really, the benefits just aren't there. They probably should be pulled from the shelves. And I bet that they will."

Why now?

"It's taken a little bit of time to get the data that the FDA has needed," Hills said. "The original studies that were used to support approval of the medications from decades ago have been found to be very flawed. And at this point, we've just accrued enough good data to really support the fact that they don't help nasal congestion."

What alternatives are there?

"Fortunately, there are some other good options for people. Again, the hard reality is that nothing is perfect for nasal congestion when you get sick," Hills said. "We don't have a cure yet for the common cold or for viruses. We have vaccines that help you from getting as sick as you might, but nothing's perfect."

"The medications that I'll typically recommend to folks instead of phenylephrine-based products are for example, nasal steroid sprays … or an anti histamines," Hills said. "Those can also be fairly effective and decrease swelling in a similar way."


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