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Health Team

Changes in Cold Medicines Can Reduce Effects

Posted February 7, 2007 6:24 p.m. EST

There's a lot of sniffling and coughing going around. If you look for relief on drug-store shelves, you might be a little confused. You also might still be sniffling even after you select a product.

Some familiar-looking products may not even work as well as they used to because of changes in the ingredients. WRAL’s Health Team took a look at why that is.

Last year, a new law required products with pseudo-ephedrine to be sold behind the counter at stores. You have to sign for it, and there are restrictions on the amount you can buy.

That was because some people used mass quantities of pseudo-ephedrine to make meth, an illegal drug.

Now, pharmacy shelves display decongestants like Sudafed-PE—which does not contain pseudo-ephedrine. Instead, it has a new ingredient called phenyl-ephrine, or PE. Some new research shows, however, that PE doesn't work any better than a placebo for stopping symptoms.