Actifed, Nurofen: French National Agency warns of health risks associated with these drugs

On 22 October 2023, French Agence Nationale de la Sécurité du Médicament warned of the dangers of cold medicines, used by most French people. But some of those medicines are also used in the UK.

Cold medicines warning
Cold medicines warning

Winter is just around the corner, and temperatures are already starting to drop significantly in Western Europe. Cold weather often means runny noses, coughs, fevers... Flu symptoms that people tend to alleviate and treat using well-known medication available in pharmacies. Nasal-sprays, Actifed, Nurofen... these are part of the daily routine of millions of households, and yet they may present a health hazard. That is what the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM), announced on 22 October 2023.

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What is the ANSM?

According to its own official website, the Agence Nationale de Securité du Médicament et des Produits de Santé is

the public body which, on behalf of the State, allows access to healthcare products in France and ensures their safety throughout their life cycle.

In other words, this agency evaluates health products and ensures that they do not represent a danger to their users, or more precisely, that the 'benefit/risk' balance is positive.

Actifed, Nurofen...

ANSM published a worrying list of medicines used to treat colds. According to the organization, they could present health risks.

The drugs involved in the survey are: two Actifed products and Nurofen cold & flu. However, the ANSM specifies that this warning concerns all medicines that aim to unblock your nose. That is why the warning includes both nasal sprays as well as tablets.

While ANSM is a French institution, these medicines are used in other European countries. They write:

As these medicines are available in many other European countries, ANSM has requested their re-evaluation at European level on the basis of these new data. The procedure, which began in February 2023, is continuing

According to their study, taking these drugs could lead to heart attacks and strokes.

The risk is very low, but these events can occur regardless of the dose and duration of treatment. The seriousness of these accidents and the persistence of cases - despite actions already taken - combined with the non-essential nature of vasoconstrictors, lead ANSM to advise against their use

Advice of how to help with cold symptoms

While the warning issued by ANSM is worrying know that there are other ways to ease cold symptoms. ANSM's advice is:

  • Moisten the inside of the nose with suitable cleansing solutions: saline solution, thermal water or seawater sprays, etc.
  • Drink enough fluids;
  • Sleep with your head elevated;
  • Keep the atmosphere cool (18-20°C) and air rooms regularly.

This article was adapted from Oh!MyMag FranceandGentside France

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