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The Food and Drug Administration has banned PPA, also known as phenylpropanolamine a common ingredient in many over-the-counter medications to treat, stuffy noses, colds and obesity.

More than 6 billion doses of PPA were bought by consumers last year. The FDA estimate that each year PPA causes 200 to 500 people between 18 and 49 of age to suffer strokes. That means that when you take an over-the-counter drug that contains phenylpropanolamine, you have one chance in 30 million of suffering a stroke. One company, Novartis, is withdrawing its products with PPA and substituting pseudoephedrine, another drug that is so similar to PPA that there is no real difference. This shows how difficult it is for public health officials to respond to news media reports of horrible side effects that alarm the public, even when these side effects are unbelievably uncommon.

The following US cold and allergy products contain PPA and are being withdrawn:

* Tavist-D
* Triaminic DM/Triaminic Cough
* Triaminic Syrup/Triaminic Cold & Allergy
* Triaminicol/Triaminic Cold & Cough
* Triaminic Expectorant/Triaminic Chest Congestion
* Triaminicin.

The following products do not contain PPA, and should be considered as alternatives for PPA-containing formulas:

* All TheraFlu products
* Triaminic SoftChews
* Triaminic Cold Cough and Fever
* Triaminic Cough and Congestion
* Triaminic Cold and Night Time Cough
* Triaminic Cough and Sore Throat
* Triaminic Allergy Congestion
* Tavist Allergy
* Tavist Sinus

1) Fixed drug eruption due to phenylpropanolamine hydrochloride [letter] Heikkila H, Kariniemi AL, Stubb S Br J Dermatol 2000 Apr;142(4):845-7.

2) Myocardial infarction associated with phenylpropanolamine. Oosterbaan R, Burns MJ Department of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA. J Emerg Med 2000 Jan;18(1):55-9.

3) Exacerbation of psychosis by phenylpropanolamine [letter] Goodhue A, Bartel RL, Smith NB Am J Psychiatry 2000 Jun;157(6):1021-2.

4) Phenylpropanolamine-associated intracranial hemorrhage in an infant [letter]Hamilton RS, Sharieff G Am J Emerg Med 2000 May;18(3):343-5.

5) Intracerebral hemorrhage in a young woman with arteriovenous malformation after taking diet control pills containing phenylpropanolamine: a case report. Chung YT, Hung DZ, Hsu CP, Yang DY, Wu TC Department of Emergency Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taiwan, ROC. Chung Hua I Hsueh Tsa Chih (Taipei) 1998 Jul;61(7):432-5.

6) Over-the-counter sympathomimetics: a risk factor for cardiac arrhythmias in pregnancy. Onuigbo M, Alikhan M Department of Internal Medicine, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, MD 21204, USA. South Med J 1998 Dec;91(12):1153-5.

7) Cerebral infarction in an adolescent girl following an overdose of paroxetine and caffedrine combined with theodrenaline. Conde Lopez VJ, Ballesteros Alcalde MC, Blanco Garrote JA, Marco Llorente J Departamento de Psiquiatria, Hospital Clinico Universitario, Valladolid. Actas Luso Esp Neurol Psiquiatr Cienc Afines 1998 Sep-Oct;26(5):333-8.

Checked 8/9/05

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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