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‘Medicines to avoid in 2022’ list published by French medical review

The list features common cold and cough items and several medicines still available for complaints such as a sore throat

Some of the medicines on the list are used for the treatment of common conditions such as coughs, colds, sore throats, and mild pain Pic: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

The annual list of medicines that people in France should avoid has been published  by the medical review Prescrire, with the 105 medicines included judged to present too much of a side-effect risk. Of these, 89 are still available.

The new annual list is the tenth published by Prescrire, an independent not-for-profit medical publication, funded by subscriptions. The publication was one of the first to flag up issues with the slimming drug  Mediator.

Read more: French pharma firm found guilty over diet pill linked to 2,000 deaths

The list features medicines which it claims should not be prescribed as they present too much of a side-effect risk compared to any positive effect they may have.

Although some of the list concerns drugs that are already not sold in France, 89 of the 105 medications mentioned are still readily available. 

These include some common treatments.

Decongestants and cold medicine

  • Dolirhume
  • The Actifed range
  • Humex Rhume

These are considered to cause cardiovascular risk disproportionate to their usefulness. Their use is officially unadvised.

Sore throat

  • Maxilase
  • Thiovalone


  • Toplexil
  • Biocalyptol

Painkillers and anti-inflammatories

  • Voltarene
  • Any medicine name ending in ‘coxib’
  • Qutenza patch

The review instead recommends the occasional use of paracetamol where possible.

Type 2 diabetes

  • Galvus
  • Januvia
  • Onglyza

These are considered to cause a risk of side effects including allergic reactions, urinary infections, pancreatitis or intestinal blockages. The review said there is “not yet enough perspective” on their usefulness.

The drug metformin should remain “the benchmark”, it said.

And two medicines that are no longer on the list…

  • Gliflozines (such as Forxiga or Jardiance) - a sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitor, used for treating diabetes.

The previously perceived risks of kidney and heart failure and other issues are considered to have dropped after new evaluations. However, Prescrire still does not actively recommend the medicines’ use, due to a still-existing risk of side effects such as severe infections and skin reactions.

  • Cimetidine - a histamine that inhibits stomach acid production.

This medicine no longer appears on the list because it is no longer available, after a global recall.

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