UK’s top health experts have announced that some 20 cold and cough medicines are being recalled over an allergy risk posed by one ingredient.
These include medications produced by Boots, Thornton and Ross and Pinewood Labs, due to a risk of anaphylaxis caused by an ingredient called “phlocodine”.
Pholcodine is an opioid cough suppressant, which helps suppress to dry coughs and also has a mild sedative effect, but has little or no pain-relief.
The recall has been issued as a precaution, following a review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which found “their benefits do not outweigh the increased risk”.
The review found that, in “very rare” cases, pholcodine can cause anaphylaxis – or an allergic reaction – to neuromuscular blocking agents used in general anaesthesia.
Check the packaging of any cough tablets or syrups you have at home to see if pholcodine is listed – and if it is, talk to your pharmacist about getting a different medicine.
You should also inform your anaesthetist before you have surgery if you have ever consumed pholcodine, especially in the past 12 months.
All the medicines which have been recalled are as follows:
- Boots Night Cough Relief Oral Solution, PL 00014/0230
- Boots Dry Cough Syrup 6 Years+, PL 00014/0523
- Boots Day Cold & Flu Relief Oral Solution, PL 00014/0565
- Cofsed Linctus, PL 00240/0097
- Care Pholcodine 5mg/5ml Oral Solution Sugar Free, PL 00240/0101
- Galenphol Linctus, PL 00240/0101
- Galenphol Paediatric Linctus, PL 00240/0102
- Galenphol Strong Linctus, PL 00240/0103
- Covonia Dry Cough Sugar Free Formula, PL 00240/0353
- Pholcodine Linctus Bells Healthcare 5mg Per 5ml Oral Solution, PL 03105/0059
- Numark Pholcodine 5mg per 5ml Oral Solution, PL 03105/0059
- Well Pharmaceuticals Pholcodine 5mg per 5ml Oral Solution, PL 03105/0059
- Superdrug Pholcodine Linctus BP, PL 03105/0059
- Strong Pholcodine Linctus BP, PL 03105/0060
- Pholcodine Linctus BP, PL 04917/0002
- Strong Pholcodine Linctus BP, PL 04917/0005
- Pholcodine Linctus, PL 12965/0030
- Day & Night Nurse Capsules, PL 44673/0068
- Day Nurse Capsules, PL 44673/0069
- Day Nurse, PL 44673/0075
The Commission on Human Medicines advised in the review that there is sufficient overall evidence for an association with pholcodine.
However, the absolute risk of anaphylaxis remains very small in patients who have taken pholcodine – seen in around one in 10,000 procedures.
The MHRA scientific review took place alongside a review conducted by the European Medicines Agency, which also concluded that the benefits did not outweigh the risks.