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Indian government bans Procter & Gamble's Vicks cold medicine over health concerns


(NaturalNews) Vicks Action 500 Extra, a cold medicine made by Procter and Gamble (P&G), has been pulled from store shelves and production in India, following a March 10 decision by the Indian government to ban the manufacture, sale and distribution of more than 300 different fixed-dose combination drugs.

Meanwhile, several other Big Pharma firms, including Abbott and Pfizer, have stopped selling their own popular cough syrups in the country, since these were also covered by the new regulations.

Vicks Action 500 Extra is used to treat the common cold and flu, and contains a fixed-dose combination of the drugs paracetamol, phenylephrine and caffeine. This is one of 344 different combinations that the government prohibited on the grounds that it lacked "therapeutic justification."

Ineffective and downright dangerous

The government's idea that the drug lacks therapeutic justification is not quite as unfounded as P&G would have you believe.

One of the ingredients in the drug, phenylephrine, made its way into a number of OTC cold medicines after new regulations were put in place on the sale of ephedrine. At the time, many pharmacists expressed surprise that the ingredient would be used in such medications, since it is known to be ineffective when taken orally for relieving congestion, because it is poorly absorbed into a person's bloodstream.

A study from the University of Washington that appeared in the journal, Chemical Research in Toxicology, found that when caffeine and paracetamol are administered together in a combined dose, as they are in the case of Vicks Action 500, the risk of permanent liver damage occurring jumps threefold.

Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, doesn't even need to be combined with caffeine to be toxic; it's pretty dangerous all on its own. It is a known liver toxin, and acetaminophen toxicity that comes from cold medicines and other painkillers is the top cause of acute liver failure in the U.S.

The move by the Indian government to protect its people is being applauded by many in the health industry. One health expert told the Business Standard, "Enforcing the ban will always be an issue. But the fact that government has shown its intention of banning drugs – without coming under pressure from pharmaceutical companies – which are known to be harmful all across the world is praiseworthy."

Big Pharma companies contesting the ban

P&G said immediately that they would be challenging the ban, while Pfizer is looking into options to get around the regulations and get its poison back into the hands of consumers, as the move is expected to hurt it financially.

A BSI filing by the firm said: "The company is exploring all available options at its disposal... The prohibition is likely to have an adverse impact on the revenue and profitability of the company."

On March 29, Big Pharma companies told the Delhi High Court that the decision to ban was made without considering clinical data. More than 150 petitions were filed by firms such as P&G and Pfizer, and the decision was stayed.

P&G is no stranger to controversy

It's not the first time that P&G has come under fire. In Defense of Animals claims that P&G tests its products on animals, harming them and often killing them in the process. There are also reports that they fail to provide basic care for the animals.

Earlier this year, the firm's operations in Argentina were suspended by the government, amid accusations that it over-billed $138 million worth of exports to funnel currency abroad.

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