Public Citizen Calls on FDA to Ban Substance Found in Common Appetite Suppressants, Cold Medicines

Oct. 19, 2000

Public Citizen Calls on FDA to Ban Substance Found in Common Appetite Suppressants, Cold Medicines

Substance Linked to Strokes, Public Citizen Research Shows

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Public Citizen is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban a substance used in many over-the-counter appetite suppressants and cough/cold remedies because it can increase the risk of stroke.

In a petition filed today, Public Citizen called on the FDA to ban phenylpropanolamine (PPA), which is used as a decongestant and appetite suppressant and has been available for more than 50 years.

“PPA should be removed from the market immediately,” said Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe, director of Public Citizen s Health Research Group. “The longer the delay, the larger the toll of preventable strokes and other serious damage to consumers.”

Public Citizen found more than 100 published reports about the dangers of PPA. In addition, an industry-funded Yale study recently found that PPA increases the risk for stroke. Even the FDA harbors concerns; in an internal FDA memo, two doctors wrote that “PPA should not be generally recognized as safe.”

The FDA has previously acknowledged the need to remove older, outmoded drugs from the market when they no longer serve any unique purpose and when there is evidence that they are dangerous. PPA is just such a drug because there are many safer alternatives, Wolfe said.

PPA can cause a severe inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain, which, combined with the blood-pressure-raising effects of the drug, can result in brain hemorrahages and strokes. PPA is in such common products as AcuTrim Maximum Strength Appetite Control, Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine Original, Contac 12 Hour Cold Capsules, Dimetapp Cold & Cough Liqui-Gels, Robitussin CF and Triaminic DM Cough Relief.

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