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FDA prompts removal of unapproved drugs from market

Class action is part of FDA's Unapproved Drugs Initiative

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today took action against companies that manufacture, distribute, or market certain unapproved prescription oral cough, cold, and allergy products. The affected products cannot be legally marketed in the United States.

Unapproved prescription cough, cold, and allergy drug products have not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, and quality. People may be at greater risk when using these products than when using FDA-approved prescription drugs or drugs that are appropriately marketed over-the-counter (OTC). 

Many health care providers are unaware of the unapproved status of drugs and have continued to unknowingly prescribe them because the drugs' labels do not disclose that they lack FDA approval.

"Removing these unapproved products from the market will reduce potential risks to consumers," said Deborah Autor, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.  "There are many FDA-approved prescription products, as well as appropriately marketed over-the-counter products, available to treat cough, cold, and allergy symptoms; so, we expect little or no negative impact on consumers from the removal of these unapproved products." 

Companies that have previously listed products subject to today's action with FDA are expected to stop manufacturing them within 90 days and stop shipping the products within 180 days.  Companies that have not previously listed products subject to today's action with FDA are expected to stop manufacturing and shipping their products immediately.

Given that so many cough, cold, and allergy drug products exist that are FDA-approved prescription products or are appropriately marketed OTC, taking an unapproved prescription product is an unnecessary risk.  

Consumers who believe they are taking an unapproved prescription cough, cold, or allergy product should contact their health care provider to discuss alternatives.

This is the 17th action on a drug class as part of FDA's Unapproved Drugs Initiative1, which began in June 2006.  The initiative is the agency's risk-based enforcement approach to efficiently and rationally bring all unapproved new drugs into the approval process.  One of the goals of the initiative is to reduce consumer exposure to drugs that are not proven safe, effective, and of high quality.  

Consumers and health care professionals are encouraged to report adverse side effects or medication errors from the use of unapproved prescription cough, cold, and allergy products to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program at www.fda.gov/MedWatch2 or by calling 800-332-1088.
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