What do you do when you get the sniffles?
Sometimes blowing your nose just doesn’t cut it. Medicines called decongestants can help you kick the crud. But experts say some of these drugs don’t work. Officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agree.
Have you heard of Sudafed PE, Mucinex Sinus-Max, or Dayquil? These medicines contain a chemical called phenylephrine. Many people believe this chemical clears up stuffy noses. And it can—if sprayed into your nostrils. But what about when taken through the mouth?
Researchers performed a study. They gave some people phenylephrine pills. They gave other people a placebo. A placebo is a “dummy pill.” It doesn’t contain any real medicine. But the people taking part in the test don’t know that.
What did the researchers discover? Phenylephrine didn’t work any better than the fake pill! Phenylephrine wasn’t even “better than nothing.”
In the United States, companies can’t sell just anything as medicine. Medicines must be reviewed by government experts. That’s the job of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA helps protect people from dangerous or misleading medicines.
A panel of FDA experts looked at the phenylephrine studies. The experts agreed that the drugs don’t work. Companies shouldn’t sell them as stuffy-nose cures.
“Patients require and deserve medications that treat their symptoms safely and effectively,” says one panel member. “And I don’t believe that this medication does that.”
What does this mean for your local pharmacy? Nothing—for now. The FDA hasn’t yet turned this decision into a rule. That process takes time. But someday, the FDA might make companies stop selling these medicines.
Phenylephrine has been sold as a decongestant for over 75 years. It’s a staple in household medicine cabinets. It’s so familiar that many people just assume it works. Old studies claim it does. But those studies use outdated methods. They wouldn’t pass today’s FDA tests.
In this world, everyone has a sickness. It’s a spiritual sickness called sin. We often try to fix it with things that don’t work. But there’s only one real cure. That cure is Jesus. He’s the true Healer.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” — Mark 2:17