ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
CANCER
Many Ignore Symptoms of Bladder Trouble
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
CAREGIVING
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
DIABETES
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
Eating Less May Slow Aging Process
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Meat-Eating Dinosaurs Used Legs and Arms Like Birds
Preparing for a Chlorine Gas Disaster
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
FITNESS
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
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FDA Bans Unapproved Prescription Cough, Cold and Allergy Meds

WEDNESDAY, March 2 -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it plans to remove about 500 unapproved prescription cough, cold, and allergy medicines from pharmacy shelves.

These drugs have not been evaluated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness, and they may be riskier to take than approved over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that treat these same conditions, agency officials explained.

"This action is necessary to protect consumers from the potential risks posed by unapproved drugs, because we don't know what's in them, whether they work properly or how they are made," Deborah M. Autor, director of the agency's Office of Compliance at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said during a morning news conference.

Of particular concern are drugs that have time-release formulations, Autor said. "We know from experience that these type of products are complicated to manufacture," she explained, and the agency's concern is that these products may not release medication consistently or safely.

Another big concern involves unapproved cough, cold and allergy medications labeled for use by children under the age of 2. In 2008, the FDA released a warning against the use of OTC cough and cold products for infants and children under age 2 because of serious, potentially life-threatening side effects.

Officials are also worried about serious side effects with some of these unapproved drugs such as sedation and drowsiness, and name confusion that can lead to prescribing errors, she said.

Despite the requirement that prescription drugs be evaluated by the FDA before they can be sold, many of these medications were never approved, Autor explained.

"Some of these products have been marketed for many years, and have remained on the market illegally," she said. "Some entered the market illegally simply because they [manufacturers] saw a business opportunity."

According to the FDA, many doctors prescribe these drugs because they aren't aware they have not been approved. Most of these drugs are listed in the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR), which is a guide doctors can use when prescribing drugs, Autor noted.

FDA officials expect companies that have listed products with the agency to stop making them within 90 days, and to stop shipping them within 180 days. The agency pointed out that this action will not affect patients since there are many approved prescription and OTC cough, cold, and allergy medications already on the market.

One group representing cold and allergy experts sought to clarify the move for consumers.

"In light of the FDA announcement, it is important to make a distinction between these unapproved drugs and the individual components within the drugs," Dr. Thomas B. Casale, executive vice president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, said in a statement released Wednesday.

"Many of the components can be obtained over-the-counter or by prescription and are approved by the FDA," Casale said. "However, the listed drugs for removal have not proven safe and effective by adequately approved FDA studies. Furthermore, some combination of the components contained in these drugs could result in adverse effects."

And one doctor warned of the dangers of drug combinations.

"I am amazed at the number of prescription products on this list, and 95 percent of them Ive never seen before," said Dr. E. Neil Schachter, a professor of medicine at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "My approach to treating colds and flu is to give specific ingredients for symptom relief separately and not in a combination form. Too often people will buy multiple cold products and don't realize they are taking the same ingredients more than once and are risking an overdose."

There's a long list of the drugs in question at the FDA's Web site. A few of the unapproved medicines to be withdrawn include: A Tan 12X Suspension; Accuhist DM, Accuhist drops cherry flavor, Lodrane 12 D tablets and Aerohist caplets extended release.

More information

For a complete list of unapproved cough cold and allergy drugs, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

SOURCES: March 2, 2011, teleconference with Deborah M. Autor, director, Office of Compliance, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; March 2, 2011, news release, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; E. Neil Schachter, MD, Professor of Medicine at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City