Voluntary withdrawal of popular cold and cough medicine from store shelves fuels conspiracy theories

REQUIREMENT: Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines are being pulled from pharmacy shelves in an attempt to start the “next pandemic” or get people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

AP ASSESSMENT. A lie. Not all cold medicines are removed from all store shelves. Some over-the-counter cold and cough medicines that contain phenylephrine being as one component voluntarily removed at CVS stores after an FDA advisory panel found the ingredient ineffective. Medical experts told The Associated Press that brands still provide cold medicines with other ingredients that relieve symptoms such as congestion, but they don’t prevent the disease like a flu vaccine would.

THE FACTS flu season Posts on social media are raising doubts about the removal of some cough and cold remedies from store shelves.

“Dayquil, Mucinex, Sudafed, Theraflu and more are being pulled from the shelves,” said a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Just in time for the next pandemic. Right during the next elections. But no…There’s nothing to see here.”

Post links to “Plandemic,” which is a documentary-style video promoting unsubstantiated accusations about COVID-19 vaccinations and the government’s stay-at-home orders at the time.

But this latest move is based on recent findings from experts assembled by the FDA that found phenylephrine to be taken orally. not more efficient than taking a fake pill.

In 2007, the FDA asked outside consultants to take another look at phenylephrine after it became the main drug used in over-the-counter decongestants when pseudoephedrine 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, Dayquil, and other medications. Other national chain pharmacies have not removed 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 clinical integrity office and suppliers “for appropriate next steps.” Rite Aid said in a statement to the AP that it is following the FDA’s guidance and is “committed to providing convenient access to approved products to meet the health care needs of our customers.”

“While some may find the timing of the FDA advisory committee’s decision to be released during cold and flu season less than ideal, we hope it will prompt patients to talk to their healthcare providers about other options that may actually be more effective for them.” Michael Hegener, James L. Associate Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati. Winkle College of Pharmacy, wrote to the AP.

While medical experts tell the AP that FDA’s determination of drug efficacy Not surprisingly, there were no safety concerns at the prescribed levels of its use, said Dr. Lauren Eggert, clinical assistant professor of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.

“I just want to reiterate that it is completely safe,” Eggert said of the use of phenylephrine. “It’s really just a matter of efficiency.” Eggert also noted that this advice only helps patients use more effective medications.

Experts told the AP that other versions of Sudafed and cold medications that do not use phenylephrine are still available. For example, Sudaf with pseudoephedrine relieves cold symptoms, but it is kept behind the pharmacy counter.

“My advice for the common cold is supportive care,” said Eggert, who advises staying rested and hydrated if a person is sick and notes that getting the necessary vaccines, such as the flu shot, is key to prevention.


It’s part of 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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