CVS is pulling over-the-counter allergy and cold medications containing a popular ingredient from its shelves. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that this ingredient, phenylephrine, is no more effective than a placebo when taken orally. This was reported by USA Today.
"We are removing from sale a small number of oral decongestants containing phenylephrine as the sole active ingredient, but will continue to offer many other oral cough and cold remedies to meet consumers' needs," said a spokesperson for CVS Health.
Medications like Dayquil, which contain a combination of active ingredients, will remain on CVS store shelves.
Since 2007, the effectiveness of phenylephrine in relieving nasal congestion has been disputed.
In September, a panel of consultants assembled by the FDA unanimously agreed that oral phenylephrine was ineffective upon a "thorough review" of data obtained as far back as 1994, as well as the fact that the drug is metabolized in the body before reaching the nasal passages.
No safety issues were identified with oral phenylephrine consumption.
According to experts, potential benefits of excluding this ingredient include "reducing overall healthcare costs and preventing missed opportunities for the use of more effective treatments," such as seeing a doctor.
According to an FDA report, the sales volume of phenylephrine-containing medications reached $1.8 billion last year.
Not all pharmacy chains will be pulling these products. A representative from Rite Aid stated that the company would leave these over-the-counter medications on its shelves, saying, "Our pharmacists are available to advise customers on over-the-counter remedies for symptom relief related to colds and other illnesses."