DCGI warns doctors, patients to stop using cough syrup containing Pholcodine citing safety concerns

New Delhi: Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) Rajeev Raghuvanshi has issued an advisory to doctors, medical professionals and patients using cough syrups and cold remedies containing pholcodine after the World Health Organization (WHO) alerted them about the safety concern in cough syrups and advised them to stop using such cough syrups.

WHO warns health care professionals and regulatory authorities about the risk of anaphylactic reactions in people who have taken cough syrups and cold remedies containing pholcodine at least 12 months before surgical procedures involving the administration of general anesthesia with neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs).

“The matter was referred to the Subject Expert Committee (Antimicrobials and Antivirals) to seek expert opinion on the safety alert published by WHO on the risk of perioperative anaphylactic reactions in cough syrups and prior use of pholcodine for the treatment of cold and flu and NMBAS for any regulatory intervention on the risk of perioperative anaphylactic reactions.

The DCGI has asked doctors to advise patients to stop taking cough syrups and cold-relieving medicines containing pholcodine and suggest an alternative to treat their symptoms. “To verify whether patients taking general anesthetics containing (NMBAs) have taken cough syrup containing pholcodine in the last 12 months and also be aware of anaphylactic reactions in such patients.”

He advised patients to be careful while taking such cough syrups and consult a doctor and pharmacist to suggest any other alternative treatment. “In case of patients who are going to take general anesthetics and have taken such cough syrups in the last 12 months, the same should be informed to the doctor before the procedure,” the DCGI said.

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Updated: July 20, 2023, 12:45 AM IST