AP: Voluntary removal of popular cold-and-cough medications from store shelves fuels conspiracy theories

The University of Cincinnati's Michael Hegener recently contributed to an Associated Press fact check debunking a claim that cold medicines being pulled off of pharmacy shelves were part of a larger conspiracy. 

An FDA advisory committee agreed unanimously in September that an ingredient called phenylephrine found in many over-the-counter cold medicines called phenylephrine doesn't work to clear nasal congestion when taken orally. Since then, some medicines containing phenylephrine as its only active ingredient have been removed from CVS store shelves.

Some on social media have raised suspicions that the medication removals are due to a larger conspiracy to force people to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, but Hegener and other health experts said the theory has no merit.

“While some may find the timing of this FDA advisory committee conclusion being released during the cold and flu season to be less than ideal, hopefully it prompts patients to speak with their health care providers about other options that may actually be more effective for them,” Hegener, an associate professor of pharmacy at UC's James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy, wrote to the AP.

Even as certain medications are being removed, there are still plenty of options for cough and cold medicines that contain other active ingredients that are still effective. While these medications help treat symptoms like congestion, they do not prevent illness like a flu vaccine would.

Read the AP story.

Hegener and UC's Ahmad Sedaghat recently joined Cincinnati Edition to discuss the FDA phenylephrine decision. Read more about the discussion on Cincinnati Edition.

Featured photo at top of woman looking at over the counter medicine in a pharmacy aisle. Photo/iStock/SDI Productions.

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