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Health warning on cold remedies

Consumer group says many over-the-counter remedies have side-effects that are ‘too large a risk for a simple cold’

COLD remedies have come under attack from a consumer group which says that too many of them have side-effects, especially if taken together, which can cause serious medical risks.

An inquiry by 60 millions de consommateurs pointed the finger at over-the-counter medicines such as Actifed, Humex, Dolirhume, Rhinédrine and Nurofen and said the drugs they contained could cause serious heart, lung or stomach problems and should only be available on prescription.

In all, the group tested 33 cold remedies and said the majority were ineffective - and around half were dangerous with “too large a risk for a simple cold”.

In 2012 the medicines watchdog, the l'Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament (ANSM), warned that some people could face “persistent cardiovascular and neurological ill-effects” from some over-the-counter remedies.

The 60 millions magazine listed several remedies that should be avoided:

• Actifed Rhume Jour et Nuit (Day and Night), Humex Rhume, DolirhumePro, ActifedRhume, Dolirhume, and Rhumagrip – which contain pseudoephedrine, a vasoconstrictor that can cause a heart attack or serious neurological ill-effects with “too much risk for a simple cold”.

• Humex Lib, Drill Rhume and Fervex Sans Sucre (sugar-free) - which have antihistamines which should not be taken by those with glaucoma or prostate-related urinary problems. They can also cause drowsiness.

• RhinAdvil Rhume, Nurofen Rhume, Rhinureflex - contain Ibuprofen, which can cause stomach and digestive problems, skin problems and is also not advised for asthmatics.

• Hexarhume – 60 millions says it is “useless” and risks health as it is an old-fashioned antihistamine that also contains a vasoconstrictor and an allergenic antiseptic.

The consumer group said that many of the remedies contained drugs that were not compatible and others contained paracetemol that should not be taken in conjunction with another paracetemol remedy.

The ANSM warned that colds were caused by viruses and would clear in seven to 10 days. Any remedies could only reduce the severity of the symptoms, and not the time to clear.
Photo: DPix Center -

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