Harrisonburg allergist gives insight on FDA saying certain over-the-counter meds don’t work

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 11:50 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Last week an FDA panel agreed many over-the-counter allergy and cold medicines don’t work.

Benadryl Allergy Plus Congestion, Sudafed PE and Vicks Sinex are common medicines containing the ingredient phenylephrine which the panel found ineffective.

Dr. R. Steven Pence with Allergy and Asthma Associates of Virginia said the phenylephrine ingredient was added to a lot of base medicines and is used to dry the sinuses up.

”The people that want something similar to phenylephrine, which was supposed to work, would be pseudoephedrine, which is available behind the counter, it’s not prescription but many of our patients do well with an antihistamine,” Dr. Pence said.

He said many people might’ve thought it did help them, but when they looked at the studies it wasn’t much help.

“An antihistamine is sufficient for many people if you need something else and you’re having thicker mucus some people use Guaifenesin to thin out the mucus, so it doesn’t clog them up as much,” Dr. Pence said.

He said nasal rinses are also something to consider, but to be careful and use distilled water so infections don’t occur.

Dr. Pence said if allergy or cold symptoms are prolonged after the use of over-the-counter medicines, you should schedule an appointment with your provider.