Monday, March 23, 2009

Anti-cold pills recipe for stroke

NEW DELHI: Popping that pill from your first-aid box every time you get the sniffles could be fatal. Commonly used cough and cold pills and syrups such as D’Cold, Vicks Action 500, Actifed or Coldarin contain phenylpropanolamine (PPA), an ingredient that could rapidly lead to a stroke. In the West, pharmaceutical companies had quickly recalled drugs using the particular ingredient when reports of their fatal side-effects first emerged about three years ago. However, in India most cough and cold preparations continue to use PPA. Professor and head of cardiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Dr K Srinath Reddy, says: "Almost 50 per cent of the currently available cough medicines contain PPA. Doctors continue to prescribe them even when there are safer alternatives available." But the number of people who suffer the fatal side-effect would hardly ever be known. "Even when a person suffers a stroke, no one will relate it with a cough syrup," says Reddy. What is causing concern among experts is that these are not some rare side-effects of a drug. Trials reported in The New England Journal of Medicine have pointed out that this ingredient alone could be listed as an independent risk factor for stroke.

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