‘Let us make our own decisions’: Brits are furious about ban on cold and flu remedies
Britons have taken the decision to ban more than a dozen popular cold and flu medicines over fears they could cause a deadly reaction.
Twenty products are being withdrawn, including some from Day & Night Nurse and Covonia, as well as own-brand versions sold in Boots and Superdrug.
Patients who take pholcodine-containing medicines within 12 months of being put under general anesthesia are at increased risk of life-threatening anaphylaxis, a review by the UK’s drug regulator found.
But the British labeled the move a “ridiculous overreaction” and urged regulators to “let people make their own decisions.”
Twenty cold and flu products are being withdrawn in the UK, including some from Day & Night Nurse and Covonia – as well as own-brand versions sold in Boots (pictured)
Ben Jephcott, from Shrewsbury, said the decision to ban pholcodine, which he says is ‘safe and really works’, is a ‘ridiculous overreaction’.
Another Twitter user, Sandy Karenso, said that pholcodine is “absolutely the best cough medicine.” She urged health chiefs to ‘leave us alone’ and ‘let us make our own decisions’
Ben Jephcott of Shrewsbury said the decision to ban pholcodine, which he says is ‘safe and really works’, is a ‘ridiculous overreaction’.
He called for a national “Save our Cough Mixture” campaign in an effort to reverse the decision.
Another Twitter user, Sandy Karenso, said that pholcodine is “absolutely the best cough medicine.” She urged health chiefs to “leave us alone” and “let us make our own decisions.”
It comes after Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which oversees the safety of medicines used in Britain, confirmed yesterday that it is recalling all medicines containing pholcodine as a precaution.
The opioid drug, used as a cough suppressant since the 1950s, works by suppressing cough reflexes by reducing the nerve signals traveling from the brain to the muscles involved in coughing.
But the Commission on Human Medicine — an MHRA committee that advises on drug safety — signaled concerns among patients who took the drug before being put under general anesthesia with neuromuscular blockers (NMBAs).
NMBAs are used in about half of the general anesthetics administered in the UK to relax muscles before some operations. One use is when a patient needs to be intubated, where the NMBA paralyzes or relaxes the jaw and vocal cords.
Those who took pholcodine in the 12 months before being exposed to NMBAs were at increased risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
This causes a patient’s blood pressure to drop and the airways to narrow, blocking breathing. It can be life-threatening without immediate treatment.
Affected products, including Day & Night Nurse Capsules, Boots Night Cough Relief Oral Solution and Superdrug Pholcodine Linctus, will no longer be available in pharmacies.
Britons using tablets or syrups for coughs have been told to check the packaging, label or leaflet to see if pholcodine is a listed ingredient.
If so, they can talk to their pharmacist who can suggest a different medication.
They have also been advised to inform an anesthesiologist before surgery if they have taken any medicine containing pholcodine in the past 12 months.
But despite the MHRA warning that the potential risk of taking pholcodine-containing drugs outweighs the benefits, desperate Britons have ventured into trying to get their hands on the few options left to buy.
Online pharmacies showed “out of stock” messages, while others, including Boots, reported “stock coming soon.”
Patients took to social media to complain about problems getting their hands on depleted supplies of drugs.
A woman responding to the news tweeted, “This is outrageous. I’ve been struggling to get day nurse and night nurse for months, so it’s not new.’
Meanwhile, another wrote: ‘Day and night nurse being withdrawn from the UK market is actually quite sad, it’s the only drug that has hit the sides with this never ending cold I currently have. It’s been so hard to get hold of lately.’
Which drugs are affected?
The Boots Company PLC
Boots Night Cough Relief Oral Solution PL 00014/0230
Boots Dry cough syrup 6 years+ PL 00014/0523
Boots Day Cold and Flu Relief Oral Solution PL 00014/0565
Thornton & Ross Limited
Cofsed Linctus PL 00240/0097
Care Pholcodine 5 mg/5 ml oral solution Sugar free PL 00240/0101
Galenphol Pediatric Linctus PL 00240/0102
Galenphol Strong Linctus, PL 00240/0103
Covonia dry cough sugar free formula PL 00240/0353
Bell Sons & Company (Druggists) Limited
Pholcodine Linctus Bells Healthcare 5mg Per 5ml Oral Solution PL 03105/0059
Numark Pholcodine 5mg Per 5ml Oral Solution PL 03105/0059
Well Pharmaceuticals Pholcodine 5mg Per 5ml Oral Solution, PL 03105/0059
Superdrug Pholcodine Linctus BP PL 03105/0059
Strong Pholcodine Linctus BP PL 03105/0060
Pinewood Laboratories Limited
Pholcodine Linctus BP PL 04917/0002
Strong Pholcodine Linctus BP, PL 04917/0005
Pholcodine Linctus PL 12965/0030
Glaxosmithkline Consumer Healthcare (UK) Trading Limited
Capsules for day and night nurses PL 44673/0068
Day nurse capsules PL 44673/0069
Day nurse PL 44673/0075