It’s been 18 years since drug companies replaced pseudoephedrine with phenylephrine to keep their cold medications available over the counter when the people waging War On Drugs(tm) decided to restrict the main ingredient in Sudafed (and what it was named after) because it could be used to make meth.
Though I remember some other decongestant plugging the idea that “unlike those medications, we chose not to change our formulation…” Yeah, because you weren’t using an ingredient that got semi-banned!
From the start, the new formulation clearly wasn’t as effective. When I found out that I could still buy the real medication as long as I asked at the pharmacy counter (and showed ID so that the DEA or whoever knows I’m not trying to get around limits by hitting every pharmacy in town), I stopped bothering with the OTC versions entirely.
I wasn’t surprised when studies showed that phenylephrine doesn’t work.
Back in 2015.
(Restricting sales of the real stuff didn’t seem to make much of a dent in the meth problem, either.)
“Only” eight years later, the FDA reached the same conclusion.
And yet the industry is complaining that “if oral phenylephrine were not available over the counter, it would be a significant burden to consumers.”
It doesn’t work. People who buy it are wasting their time and money on snake oil instead of buying a different medication that might actually do something for them. (Not that this is a problem for the supplement industry, where “not evaluated by the FDA” might as well be a selling point.)
We all ended up worse off: cold meds that don’t work, submitting to surveillance to get the meds that do work, and it didn’t even slow down the meth epidemic.