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FDA Pseudoephedrine

Orwell Meets Your Stuffy Nose 


“Experts have long doubted the effectiveness of phenylephrine,” which is a common ingredient in DayQuil, NyQuil, Sudafed, Mucinex, and others. This was National Public Radio this morning. It reminds me of Orwell: Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. 

They are telling us this 16 years after the FDA forced the ingredient as the substitute for a product that actually works, which is pseudoephedrine. 

To get the product with pseudoephedrine requires that you ask for it. It is kept behind the counter. Then you have to use your drivers’ license and there are restrictions on how many you can buy. If you go to multiple drug stores, you will be caught and possibly brought up on criminal charges. This has been going on for years now. 

No exaggeration. Here is a headline from 2007. They really did attempt to criminalize buying effective cold remedies. 

This time, it is incredibly obvious that the FDA is right: Phenylephrine is a useless product. That much has been obvious to consumers for a very long time, though it took alertness to know the difference. Plenty of people bought NyQuil thinking that it was the same old NyQuil. This is entirely the fault of the FDA itself, which together with the Bush administration deprecated pseudoephedrine in the name of the war on drugs. 

Pseudoephedrine is supposedly used to make meth. So it had to become a heavily controlled product under the guise of the war on terror. See the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005. Yep, another epidemic. As a result of the action two years later, many people have lived for 16 years with easily curable stuffy noses. How many people actually made and marketed meth using Sudafed? I’ve sought the answer for years but never run across any evidence that the practice is widespread. For all I know, it is entirely made up. 

What is the real reason that the Bush administration made the change? Back in 2007, I got curious and looked it up. The old ingredient was out of patent and manufactured for pennies each. The new product was produced by Boehringer Ingelheim Corp, a German company that back then gave mostly to Republicans. 

In other words, this was likely a payoff to a political donor. There was a flurry of patents granted for the new product, one of which came as late as 2015 for “Phenylephrine formulations with improved stability.”

It’s very likely that this product and its manufacturing became the cow that the existing ruling party could no longer milk. At this point, the FDA decided to say what everyone in the know has known for 16 years. It doesn’t work. 

What’s next? Are we going back to the product that actually works? Maybe. But more likely, there will be a period in which there is a scramble for a new drug, with new filing fees, new patents, new political donations, and new royalties for companies and the bureaucrats that grant them access. 

It’s all quite brazen and absurd. It’s especially rotten that the FDA seems to be placing the blame for a decade and a half of stuffy noses on the manufacturers of cold products – even though it was the government itself that forced them to use inferior ingredients in the first place. 

There is something especially absurd about the FDA right now. They rubber stamp vaccines without proper testing. They recommend them for everyone, even those at zero medical risk for suffering from that which the vaccine is supposed to mitigate, even though the potion is for a variant that is already gone from the scene. Then they block and trash repurposed drugs that actually do work. 

And now in the name of fixing the common cold, they have blasted out the news that DayQuil is no good, even though the drug regulators themselves are responsible for ruining what was once a perfectly respectable product.

Some people speculate that this is, once again, a matter of directing all attention to the vaccine industry, so that even the common cold can be cited as a reason to get, for example, the new RSV vaccine, which is helpfully promoted in the New York Times just below its piece on the above news. 

The entire scene has become part of what is now called Clown World. 

What’s the solution? Probably all of us are going to be driven back to prewar cold remedies like the Neti Pot (for as low as $5) and saline solution. In some ways, that’s probably a better remedy in any case. The American addiction to pills and shots for every minor malady has only empowered bullying bureaucrats and crony capitalists, while our health has otherwise suffered blow after blow. 

At least now the racket is out in the open. 

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  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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