Claim: Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines are being pulled from drugstore shelves in an attempt to start the next outbreak or get people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
APS SCORE: False. Not all cold medicines are removed from all store shelves. Some over-the-counter cold and cough medicines that contain phenylephrine as a unique ingredient voluntarily removed at CVS stores after an FDA advisory committee found the ingredient ineffective. Medical experts tell The Associated Press that brands continue to provide other cold medicines with ingredients to relieve symptoms such as congestion, but do not prevent illness the way a flu vaccine would.
FACTS: With flu season For starters, social media posts are raising doubts about the removal of some common types of cough and cold medicine from store shelves.
Daiquil, Mucinek, Sudafed, Theraflu and many others are being pulled from shelves, according to a post shared on X, formerly known as Twitter. Just in time for the next epidemic. Just in time for the next election. But no…. Nothing to see here.
Post references Plandemicwhich he saw in a documentary style that promoted baseless accusations about the COVID-19 vaccination and the government’s stay-at-home orders at the time.
But this latest move is based on recent findings by experts assembled by the FDA who found that phenylephrine taken orally there is no more efficient than taking a fake pill.
In 2007, the FDA asked outside advisers to take another look at phenylephrine after it became the main drug used in over-the-counter decongestants when pseudoephedrine was moved behind pharmacy counters. A 2006 law forced the move because pseudoephedrine was illegally used to make methamphetamine.
CVS Health announced in October that it would phase out a small number of oral decongestants that contain phenylephrine as the only active ingredient. Phenylephrine is found in popular versions of Sudafed, Daiquil, and other medications. Other national drugstore chains did not recall any products. The FDA told the AP that it has not asked manufacturers or retail pharmacies to remove products containing the drug.
In a statement to the AP, Walgreens said the company is monitoring the situation and working with its office of clinical integrity and suppliers on appropriate next steps. Rite Aid told the AP in a statement that they are following FDA guidance and are committed to providing convenient access to approved products to meet the health needs of our customers.
While some may find the timing of this FDA advisory committee’s conclusion to be released during cold and flu season less than ideal, we hope it will encourage patients to talk to their healthcare providers about other options that may actually be more effective for them, Michael Hegener, associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy, wrote to the AP.
While medical experts tell AP that it is The FDA makes decisions about the effectiveness of drugs unsurprisingly, there were no safety concerns about its use at prescribed levels, said Dr. Lauren Eggert, a clinical assistant professor in the division of pulmonary, allergic and critical care medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.
I just want to reiterate that it is completely safe, Eggert said regarding the use of phenylephrine. It’s really just a question of efficiency. Eggert also noted that this advice only helps encourage patients to use drugs that are more effective.
Experts told the AP that other versions of Sudafed and cold medicines that do not use phenylephrine are still available. Sudafed with pseudoephedrine, for example, relieves cold symptoms, but is found behind the counter at the pharmacy.
My recommendation for the common cold is supportive care, said Eggert, who recommends staying rested and hydrated if a person is sick, and notes that getting necessary vaccines such as the flu shot is key to prevention.
This is part of the AP’s efforts to address widespread misinformation, including working with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.
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