Inside Your Health: Decongestant drugs

Inside Your Health: Decongestant drugs

Americans spend about $1.8 billion on a popular over the counter medication to treat congestion, as well as runny and stuffy noses that accompanies colds, flus and allergies - but on Tuesday, an independent advisory committee to the FDA recommended Sudafed be taken off the market because it doesn't work.

Experts are now recommending a popular over-the-counter medication for stuffy noses and congestion be taken off the shelves due to its ineffectiveness.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS anchor Leah McClean sat down with KSTP’s health expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou to discuss the recommendation.

Phenylephrine, which is better known by its retail name Sudafed, is a medication that makes blood vessels smaller, Georgiou said, which is supposed to alleviate cold symptoms like a stuffy nose.

Typically, people will ingest the medication which breaks down in the gastrointestinal tract. However, Georgiou says that’s where the problem lies — the medication is broken down too far in the stomach and the bloodstream can’t absorb it effectively.

This graph shows symptom comparison for four dosages of phenylephrine.

Georgiou said nasal steroids and nasal sprays are still safe, reliable options for cold relief. If you’re looking for an oral medication, you can still purchase Sudafed as long as you buy the box labeled pseudoephedrine. Georgiou added that you typically have to ask the pharmacist for that medication, which they will supply you after a glance at your license.