Health Canada to review U.S. panel’s conclusion that common decongestant doesn’t work

Health Canada says it will review a declaration by American government experts who say a key ingredient in over-the-counter cold and allergy medications also available in this country does not work to get rid of nasal and sinus congestion.

Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously this week against the effectiveness oforally administered decongestantphenylephrine, found in medicationssuch as Sudafed and DayQuil.

The FDA must still decide whether to revoke the over-the-counter designation for medications containing phenylephrine, meaning they may need to be removed from store shelves.

Phenylephrine became a common ingredient in cold and allergy medicines after a 2006 U.S. law banned over-the-counter sales of products that contain another type of decongestant called pseudoephedrine, which can be used to make methamphetamine.

Health Canada says that following a review, it will take any necessary action to ensure Canadians have access to safe and effective products.

Various studies have already questioned the benefits of phenylephrine, which is also available in nasal sprays, though the FDA says its advisory committee’s latest vote only relates to phenylephrine in oral form, not the nasal spray.

Banner image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Rick Bowmer

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15.

Canadian Press health coverage receives support through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. CP is solely responsible for this content.