Some cough, cold and flu medicines are being withdrawn from pharmacy shelves as a precaution following concerns over sporadic cases of allergic reaction with online pharmacy 4u for solution.
Following a review by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), all medicines containing pholcodine are being withdrawn from the UK as a precaution. Products from brands including Boots, Superdrug, and Day and Night Nurse are usually sold behind the counter among the 20 medicines being withdrawn. Experts cited a "scarce" chance of people experiencing an allergic reaction combined with general anesthetic.
Pholcodine is used as a cough suppressant.
The medicines being recalled include:
• Boots Night Cough Relief Oral Solution
• Boots Dry Cough Syrup 6 Years+
• Boots Day Cold & Flu Relief Oral Solution
• Care Pholcodine 5mg/5ml Oral Solution Sugar Free
• Galenphol Linctus
• Galenphol Paediatric Linctus
• Galenphol Strong Linctus
• Covonia Dry Cough Sugar-Free Formula
• Pholcodine Linctus Bells Healthcare 5mg Per 5ml Oral Solution
• Numark Pholcodine 5mg per 5ml Oral Solution
• Well Pharmaceuticals Pholcodine 5mg per 5ml Oral Solution
• Superdrug Pholcodine Linctus BP
• Strong Pholcodine Linctus BP
• Pholcodine Linctus BP
• Strong Pholcodine Linctus BP
• Pholcodine Linctus
• Day & Night Nurse Capsules
• Day Nurse Capsules
• Day Nurse
Health experts say people should check the packaging of cough syrups or tablets to see if pholcodine is a listed ingredient, and if so, talk to a pharmacist about alternatives.
The risk to patients who used pholcodine is 'minimal.'
Professor Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: "All products containing the cough suppressant pholcodine have been withdrawn due to concerns of its potential to cause a severe allergic reaction in some people having general anaesthesia for surgery.
"The risk to patients who have used pholcodine is minimal. If you are due to have surgery, please speak to your pharmacist or medical team for advice.
"This withdrawal is needed as the safety of patients is paramount, and we support efforts to ensure that all medicines on the market are safe and effective."
She added that coughs usually clear up within three to four weeks and can be treated with other cough medicines, such as hot lemon and honey (unsuitable for babies under one).
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The MHRA said that based on advice from the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), the advisory body providing expert advice on drug safety, it recalled the products "as a precaution".
It said post-marketing safety data identified evidence that people taking the cough medicines were at an increased risk of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) when given general anesthesia with neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBA).
Pholcodine-containing medicines are 'pharmacy-only medicines.
The MHRA has advised healthcare professionals to stop supplying the products listed above "immediately" and "quarantine all remaining stock".
The MHRA said that all pholcodine-containing medicines are "pharmacy-only medicines," which means they will have only been sold or dispensed under the supervision of a suitably trained healthcare professional.