“Many popular cold and flu medicines have been withdrawn from sale in the UK this week over fears they could trigger allergic reactions.
Experts at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency have said there is a very rare chance that some people could experience an allergic reaction linked to an ingredient called Pholcodine.
The advice is to check the packaging of any cough medicines or syrups you may have at home to see if Pholcodine is listed among the ingredients.
If it is, you can talk to your pharmacist about taking a different medicine or find an alternative product to suit your needs.
It’s important to note that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) described removing the twenty products from sale as a “precautionary measure”.
That’s because Pholcodine has been used as a cough suppressant for more than 70 years, but new evidence suggests there is a very small risk - less than one in 10,000 - that some users may have a bad allergic reaction if they later go for surgery and need a general anaesthetic which involves the use of a muscle relaxant or "neuromuscular blocking agent".
Thankfully, there are many different options available to people who are looking for alternatives to soothe coughs this month.
Hot lemon and honey, steam inhalations and lozenges are some very popular alternative remedies to treat a cough.
Or you can find a simple Linctus Syrup, which doesn’t contain Pholcodine.
Using Hot lemon and honey can help ease cold-like symptoms, because the citrus fruit contains vitamin C and helps break down mucus, while honey has soothing and anti-bacterial properties.
Drinking them together in a hot drink can soothe inflammation and boost hydration.
Meanwhile, steam inhalation — hovering over a bowl of hot water and covering your head with a towel — helps cold and flu symptoms. The warm, moist air helps to soothe and open up inflamed nasal passages.
The MHRA website states that the Cough and Flu products containing pholcodine include:
- Boots Night Cough Relief Oral Solution, PL 00014/0230
- Boots Dry Cough Syrup 6 Years+
- Boots Day Cold & Flu Relief Oral Solution
- Cofsed Linctus
- 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
- Pholcodine Linctus BP
- Strong Pholcodine Linctus BP
- Haleon Day & Night Nurse Capsules
- Haleon Day Nurse Capsules
- Haleon Day Nurse