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FDA panel calls congestion ingredient Phenylephrine “ineffective” in tablet form

FDA finds phenylephrine in decongestant pills on store shelves is no better than placebo pills

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.-Shopper Deborah Hunter said she has always wondered why her over-the-counter-congestion medicine didn't work.

So, when she heard the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called tablet forms of medications containing phenylephrine "ineffective" she was not surprised.

"I was very interested in that news because I have often told my doctors that I don't feel like this is working,  so I always get prescription like Nasonex or something," said Hunter, "So, that validates that i was right it wasn't really fixing the nasal congestion, it was interesting."

A box of Sudafed containing a dozen pills containing phenylephrine sells for more $11.

John Lang calls that a "rip-off."

Phenylephrine is a synthetic compound like epinephrine that is used as a vasoconstrictor or nasal decongestant.

A stronger ingredient called pseudophedrine is locked up behind pharmacy counters to prevent it from being used illegally to make methamphetamine.

The FDA's research follows a University of Florida study showing that phenylephrine failed to make people feel any better than placebo pills.

Drugs including Sudafed, Dayquil that contain phenylephrine are still on stores shows, but that could change following the unanimous votes against their key ingredient's effectiveness.

The FDA is not criticizing nasal sprays that are now likely to become more popular.

Local pharmacists chose not to comment on the issue.

Article Topic Follows: Your Money

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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