Is Sinutab Extra Strength safe? (Monitoring Banned Medicines: should we care?)

My recent story on Saridon where I asked clarification from authorities brought me to the reality that there is so much banned medicine ingredient out there that a lot of Filipinos are unaware of. It puzzles me even further if the Department of Health, Bureau of Customs, and pharmacies like Mercury Drug are using any super-list of sorts for their monitoring if a medicine brand will be acceptable for selling in the market.

I decided to create a blog, Banned Medicines (work in progress), with the intent of generating a list of banned ingredients for both human and animal consumption. Why include animals? Well supposedly, most medicines are first tested on animals. Also, it is not comforting if a medicine ingredient that is banned on horses will be allowed on humans such as propyphenazone.

In the process of creating the blog, I stumbled upon another chemical ingredient that is not recommended as safe in the U.S. That is phenylpropanolamine (PPA) which is an active ingredient in cough and cold medicines like Sinutab Extra Strength (available in Mercury Drug Store for P8.75 per capsule and as an over the counter medicine). This chemical ingredient is also being used in some weight loss products.

Filipinos attention were called upon in 2009 and where a lot of the products mentioned have reformulated their medicines. Although based on MIMS Philippines, Sinutab Extra Strength still has this ingredient in the product.

The scary thing about it is that PPA, in a study, is found to have its active consumers exposed to risk of having hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding into the brain or into tissue surrounding the brain) in women. Men are also at risk.

Similar to Saridon, Sinutab Extra Strength does not have a website where consumers can ask questions from its local maker - Johnson & Johnson.

So what are we to do? Who will actively look out for the interest of Filipino consumers and clamor for government agencies and drug stores to be responsible in selling products to consumers?

I think the Department of Health (including Bureau of Food and Drug) should require local drug makers and distributors to have an online presence that intends to disseminate information about a product or service. Furthermore, disclosure should be encourage for transparency especially when their brand's attention gets called upon for having ingredients that have been regarded by other drug agencies abroad as unsafe.

Lawmakers should also follow through with appropriate policies and monitor these situations especially when concerned government agencies began falling short in protecting the health interest of the consumer.

Hope J&J, Department of Health, Bureau of Customs, Mercury Drug will provide clarification on why this product is still available in the market as an over-the-counter product.

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