Significant risk of allergy: why certain cough syrups could soon be banned in France

the essential
Cough syrups could soon be banned in France. In question, a significant risk of allergy linked to pholcodine.

The marketing authorizations for cough syrups containing pholcodine could be suspended in France in the face of a “significant risk” of serious allergy to muscle relaxants during anesthesia, announced Monday August 29, 2022 the National Agency for drug safety (ANSM).

“According to a new study, taking a medicine based on pholcodine, used against coughing, exposes you to a significant risk of having a serious allergy to muscle relaxants, indicated during general anesthesia, even if the anesthesia takes place several weeks after taking the drug”, explains the health agency.

The syrups concerned are Dimetane without sugar (Biocodex), Biocalyptol and Biocalyptol without sugar (Zambon), Pholcodine (Biogaran).

Delivered without a prescription

Since 2011, syrups based on this opioid, used to calm dry coughs and irritation in adults and certain children (over 30 months and over 15 kg), can only be delivered by prescription in France, already because of this possible risk.

Given the preliminary results of a safety study in France following a European assessment, the ANSM now considers “their unfavorable benefit-risk ratio”, given “the non-essential nature of these syrups and the existence of therapeutic alternatives “. “As a result, we plan to suspend the marketing authorizations (AMM) in France for cough syrups based on pholcodine and to carry out a recall of all of these syrups at the beginning of September”, writes the agency. of the drug.

For patients who use or have already used a cough syrup containing pholcodine, “there is no particular monitoring recommended at present”, according to the ANSM. In case of general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist can ask the patient if he has already taken this type of syrup. Failing this, the patient is asked to inform him.

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