Popular cold and flu medicines urgently recalled over 'fatal' health condition in the UK

After a review of the ingredients of Cold and Flu remedies, cough syrups and cold medicines by popular household names are being withdrawn from the market.

Household brands’ cough and cold medicines recalled from the UK market over ‘fatal’ health fears
© Myriam Zilles
Household brands’ cough and cold medicines recalled from the UK market over ‘fatal’ health fears

Cough, cold and flu medicines made by Day & Night Nurse, Covonia and own-brands sold in Boots and Superdrug are, reportedly, being withdrawn from the UK market. Here’s why it’s happening.

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Cold and flu medicines could be deadly

According to MailOnline, Medical regulators have withdrawn the products from the UK market as a ‘precaution following a review.’ Any medicine containing pholcodine may benefit the cold and flu symptoms, however, they ‘do not outweigh the increased risk of the very rare event of anaphylaxis.’

Unfortunately, pholcodine is mostly found in household cough syrups and the recall would impact multiple syrups and lozenges on the shelves across the country. The product was recalled in Australia previously and the bosses at European Medicines Agency (EMA) recalled the product from the EU market in December 2022.

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The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) claims that the risk is mostly for patients ‘who receive general anaesthesia involving neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs) during surgery.’ The risk is ‘very rare’ and could affect around 1 in 10,000 procedures.

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What is anaphylaxis?

NHS defines anaphylaxis as a ‘severe and potentially life-threatening’ disease that is a reaction to allergic triggers. It develops slowly, however, gets out of control as easily and can cause breathing difficulties, wheezing, a fast heartbeat, clammy skin, anxiety and losing consciousness.

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As such, MHRA has decided to keep the public's safety over anything else. MHRA’s Chief Safety Officer Dr Alison Cave said:

Safety is our top priority, and we keep the safety of medicines under continual review.
Following a thorough scientific safety review of all the available evidence on pholcodine, together with advice from the independent Commission on Human Medicines, it has been recommended, as a precautionary measure, that these products should no longer be used.

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Sources Used

DailyMail: Day & Night Nurse and Covonia cold and flu remedies are being WITHDRAWN from UK market over health fears

NHS: Anaphylaxis

Major UK supermarket urgently recalls this popular product due to health risk Major UK supermarket urgently recalls this popular product due to health risk