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DCGI States Pholcodine Containing Cough Syrups Pose Safety Concerns

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned healthcare professionals and regulatory authorities about the risk of anaphylactic reactions due to cough syrups and cold remedies containing pholcodine. Those taking these medications at least 12 months before undergoing surgical procedures with general anesthesia and neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAS) are at greater risk.

In response to the WHO alert, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Rajeev Raghuvanshi, has issued an advisory for doctors, medical professionals, and patients who have used or have been using pholcodine containing cough syrups and cold remedies. The DCGI recommends that individuals discontinue using such cough syrups and seek alternative treatments for their symptoms.

The matter has been referred to the Subject Expert Committee (Antimicrobial & Antiviral) to seek expert opinion on the safety concern raised by the WHO. The DCGI urges doctors to inquire whether patients scheduled for general anesthesia containing NMBAS have taken pholcodine-containing cough syrups in the past 12 months and be vigilant about anaphylactic reactions in such cases.

Patients should be cautious when using cough syrups with pholcodine and consult their doctors and pharmacists for alternative treatments. Those who have taken such cough syrups in the last 12 months and are scheduled for general anesthesia should inform their doctors before the procedure.

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