Not the Same Cold Medicine on the Shelf


Not the Same Cold Medicine on the Shelf

You may have noticed that some familiar cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine are now kept behind the pharmacy counter. Pseudoephedrine (“soo-doe-eh-fed-reen”) is a common ingredient in cold medicines such as Sudafed, Wal-Phed, CVS Nasal Decongestant, and others. This medicine is a decongestant. It shrinks the blood vessels in your nose which makes it easier to breathe.

Pseudoephedrine is also a major ingredient used to illegally make methamphetamine (“meth-am-fet-ah-meen”).1 Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. Some people call it “speed.” It makes the heart beat faster and blood pressure go up. It can lead to permanent damage to blood vessels in the brain, causing a stroke.2 Using pseudoephedrine from cold medicine, people have found a way to make methamphetamine illegally.

As a result, drug companies have replaced the pseudoephedrine with a different decongestant called phenylephrine (“fen-el-ef-rin”). Some drug makers have added “PE” to the end of the cold medicine’s name to show that it is different (Sudafed PE, Wal-Phed PE, CVS Nasal Decongestant PE, others). People generally take LESS of the medicine with phenylephrine per dose than the medicine with pseudoephedrine. For example, if you used to take two Sudafed tablets per dose, you should take only one Sudafed PE tablet.

While the ingredients are different, the packages of the medicines are very similar to one another. Sudafed and Sudafed PE (as well as other brands) both come in red and white boxes. Inside, the foil blister packs for both medicines contain small, red tablets. The similarities are so strong, they can easily be confused.

As a result, ISMP has recently received several reports of accidental overdoses of cold medicines that contain phenylephrine.

In one case, a nurse, her husband, and her children each took twice as much Sudafed PE as they should have for 3 to 4 days. All of them experienced headaches and nausea. Her husband missed a day of work because he developed irregular heartbeats and dizziness. The nurse thought her family members were taking Sudafed as they always had. After all, it looked like the same small red tablet they were used to taking. Instead, they were taking Sudafed PE which contains phenylephrine instead of pseudoephedrine.

Another man told us a pharmacy clerk (not the pharmacist) had given him the cold medicine off the shelf with phenylephrine. The clerk told the man it was “generic” for Sudafed (pseudoephedrine). The man took 2 tablets for each of 3 doses before he read the package and discovered that he was taking too much medicine.

Both pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are safe when used as instructed. Nevertheless, if what you are taking is not what you think it is, dangerous mistakes are possible. Always read packages carefully to learn the exact main ingredients and how much to take for each dose. This is important even if the medicine is familiar to you. If you have questions, ask a pharmacist for help.


Top 10 home remedies for cough to get instant relief | Read Health Articles & Blogs at

Cough and cold, though not serious in all cases, do disrupt our lives. While in some cases, it may be necessary to take some cough suppressing medicines but often, simple substances in your kitchen and OTC medications might help you to deal with cough. Here are some quick and effective home remedies for cough you can try!

Source: Top 10 home remedies for cough to get instant relief | Read Health Articles & Blogs at

Heart Disease and Medication Safety

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) NSAIDs include both prescription and over-the-counter medicine. They are often used to relieve pain or reduce inflammation from conditions such as arthritis. However, NSAIDs can make your body retain fluid and decrease the function of your kidneys. This may cause your blood pressure to rise even higher. The extra fluid and higher blood pressure puts an added burden on your heart. [JPR1] The use of NSAIDS also can increase your risk for heart attack or stroke, particularly is used in high doses.

Source: Heart Disease and Medication Safety

Phenylpropanolamine PPA and Strokes – was it all a hoax? – Planet Chiropractic News

The news first surfaced around the weekend of November 3rd, 2000. A common cold medication and diet stimulant ingredient known as phenylpropanolamine was about to be banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Planet Chiropractic posted our first news of the topic on the morning of November 6th, 2000 as a result of news we were gathering throughout the weekend. On that same morning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory that a common medicine ingredient (PPA) may increase the risk of stroke in some individuals. Phenylpropanolamine (PPA), was commonly used in prescription and over-the-counter cold and cough products as a nasal decongestant and in over-the-counter weight control products. On Nov. 7th, 2000, Planet Chiropractic sent out our first ever Public Service Announcement via e-mail. Included in the e-mail was a list of common over-the-counter medications that contained the PPA ingredient. A warning involving the increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding on the brain) was also included and readers were encouraged to contact the FDA for more information.

Source: Phenylpropanolamine PPA and Strokes – was it all a hoax? – Planet Chiropractic News

What Cold Medications Are Safe For My Heart? | The Skeptical Cardiologist

It’s the cold and flu season here in St. Louis. That means the beds in my hospital are filling up with people who have upper respiratory infections of one kind or another and have developed complications. Not uncommonly, the skeptical cardiologist is asked to consult on one of his heart patients who has developed worsening heart failure or atrial fibrillation as a consequence of the pulmonary issues. In the office it seems like every other patient has recently had a flu-like illness and is still dealing with lingering symptoms, most commonly a persistent cough.

Source: What Cold Medications Are Safe For My Heart? | The Skeptical Cardiologist

Cold Medications That Do Not Affect Blood Pressure | LIVESTRONG.COM

Overview Strong over-the-counter cold medications help people make it through the cold and flu season, but some drugs can raise blood pressure. Individuals with hypertension or heart disease should choose medicines by the cold symptoms that they treat. Sneezing, coughing and runny noses can safely be treate

Source: Cold Medications That Do Not Affect Blood Pressure | LIVESTRONG.COM

10 Reasons You Feel Cold All the Time | TIME

Check if you’re drinking enough water Feeling chilly when the AC is blasting is one thing. But if you’re always shivering, or your hands and feet feel like blocks of ice while everyone else nearby says the temperature feels toasty, then it’s time to investigate. It’s common for women to report feeling cold, partly as a result of physiology and also a greater susceptibility to conditions that can contribute to coldness, says Holly Phillips, MD, medical contributor for CBS2 News and author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough. This checklist of 10 reasons your internal thermostat is out of whack can help you get a handle on why you’re chronically freezing your butt off.

Source: 10 Reasons You Feel Cold All the Time | TIME

Why Do I Feel So Cold All the Time?

Do you find yourself shivering when no one else is? Although you might just have a natural tendency to be cold, there are also a variety of conditions that could explain your chill. Could It Be Anemia? Anemia happens when your system can’t make enough normal red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. There are a number of different types of anemia. A tendency to feel cold is a common symptom for many of them. Other symptoms of anemia:

Source: Why Do I Feel So Cold All the Time?