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Pholcodine cough medicines withdrawn in UK over allergy fears

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Health officials have withdrawn 20 brands of dry cough medicine amid concerns they can trigger sudden, life-threatening allergic reactions in people who go on to have a general anaesthetic before surgery up to a year later.Pharmacists have been ordered to stop supplying medicines that contain the cough suppressant pholcodine immediately and to quarantine all remaining stock before returning the products to the relevant supplier.The move, described as a precaution on Tuesday, follows a review of safety data by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

It found an increased risk of rare anaphylaxis in patients who had taken medicines containing pholcodine and later received neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs) used in general anaesthetics.The UK government’s independent advisory body on the safety, quality and efficacy of medicines, the Commission on Human Medicines, recommended the products be recalled and withdrawn from the UK market after assessing the latest evidence.“The available data has demonstrated that pholcodine use, particularly in the 12 months before general anaesthesia with NMBAs, is a risk factor for developing an anaphylactic reaction to NMBAs,” the government alert states.

The risk is low, however, at less than one in 10,000.The alert continued: “NMBAs are used to relax the muscles during general anaesthesia for some surgical procedures.

Based on advice from the independent advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), pholcodine-containing medicines are being withdrawn from the UK market as a precaution.”The recall notice applies to 20 popular dry cough remedies including Boots Night Cough Relief Oral Solution, Boots Day Cold and Flu Relief Oral Solution, Boots Dry Cough Syrup,

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