CVS pulls popular cold medicines from store shelves

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Puffy eyes, sore nose, and runny-watery nose get all of us annoyed when we are down with a cold. The red eyes and nasal congestion take our sleep away. That is when one turns to over-the-counter medicines. Such medications are accessible at chemists or sometimes even at stores like Target.

But FDA panel declared in September that Oral Phenylephrine is not effective in offering a solution to nasal congestion. CVS said earlier this week that they are removing a few cough and cold products based on research and reports by the Food and Drug Administration. Earlier in September, the FDA report highlighted how the active ingredient in oral phenylephrine does not work.

A CVS spokesperson said to Fox Business, “We are voluntarily removing certain oral cough and cold products that contain phenylephrine as the only active ingredient from CVS Pharmacy stores. Other oral cough and cold products will continue to be offered to meet consumer needs.” He also went on to add, “We are aware of the FDA Advisory Committee’s position on oral phenylephrine (PE) and will follow direction from the FDA to ensure products we sell comply with all laws and regulations.”

The Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee or NDAC set a panel of 16 members who, along with the FDA, agreed that Oral Phenylephrine found in common versions of “Sudafed, Mucinex, Vicks, Allegra and Dayquil” is not effective in providing relief from nasal congestion.

Post this decision, CVS stocks have seen a dip of 2.21%, and the stock has changed by $1.05. This is a setback for the pharmaceutical giant. Fox Business News reports, “The FDA clarified that neither the agency nor the committee raised concerns about safety issues with use of oral phenylephrine at the recommended dose. The committee’s purpose is to provide independent advice and recommendations to the FDA, but the government agency makes final decisions.”

Dr. Robert Glatter, a New York City-based emergency room physician, told Fox Business, “The issue is that there is no evidence that phenylephrine’s purported action works any better than a placebo.” Many doctors also go on to add, “This is purely an ineffectiveness issue, and it’s not really a safety issue.” Dr. Dipak Chandy, section chief of critical care and pulmonary at New York’s Westchester Medical Center, also goes on to add that patients “don’t have to be worried about something bad happening. He also reiterated that the panel’s recommendations only pertain to the drug when it is taken orally. It’s still effective in nasal sprays. ”

FDA provided a report with suggestions, and NDAC went ahead to agree on this. They also say that CVS decided on its own to take away the products from the shelves without waiting for the FDA’s decision. A spokesperson from Walgreens went on to add they are “closely monitoring the situation and actively partnering with the Walgreens Office of Clinical Integrity and suppliers on appropriate next steps.”

Walgreens has seen a rise in its stock prices and recently introduced a new CEO. What will CVS and Walgreens do together? Are we up for a collaboration?  In April, CVS laid off 5,000 employees to cut costs. With many OTC cold drugs being taken off and mixed opinions surfacing, only time can tell what the fate of CVS is.