What’s Wrong with Phenylpropanolamine and Paracetamol?

Where is Paracetamol?

When I was in the Philippines last December, I caught a fever, colds and cough. Commonly for anything related to fever and pain relief, Paracetamol is one of the generic drugs that would come to mind for the common Filipino since these are commonly found in the Phillipines. Some of the popular brands are Biogesicâ„¢ and Tempraâ„¢. I still remember old TV commercials of Biogesicâ„¢ promoting that Paracetamol is safe for pregnant women, people with heart ailments and asthma.

But here in the US, after a visit at the drug store… I went through each pain killer of the shelf and of course the most popular known is Aspirin which is like an everyday word. And this is Acetamenophen having one of the most popular brands as Tylenol. Another popular brand is Advil. But I noticed all of the off-the-shelf pain killers were either Acetamenophen or Ibuprofen. I wonder why there is no Paracetamol based pain killers in the US off-the-shelf drugs? Is it because of some policy the US Food and Drug Authority (FDA) that did not allow this but such ruledoes not exist in the policies of the Philippines’ Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD)? In extreme pain, in the Philippines you can also buy Mefanemic Acid pain killers like the popular Ponstan 250.

Phenylpropanolamine

I know Phenylpropanolamine has been banned in large doses since it is used in some rapid weight loss drugs and has several bad side-effects. But in small doses, it is used in medicines for the common colds in the Philippines. Nearly every cold tablet in the Philippines is Phenylpropanolamine, from Neozep to Decolgen, to Ornex to Dimetapp.

And here in the US, not a single cold tablet or syrup uses Phenylpropanolamine. All use Pseudoephedrine. I wonder if the US FDA does not allow to use Phenylpropanolamine even in small amounts why uses that is allowed by the Philippines’ BFAD.

I am a Chemist by profession, but I am not Pharmacist. Generic names are actually nicknames and are not the actual scientific compound names. In chemistry, standardization of naming conventions was done by International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and from the names of compounds, you already get to know what it is made of based on the name alone. Some compounds have very long names that pharmaceutical companies make nicknames of the compounds to make the name shorter. Phenylpropanolamine is a good IUPAC name since I know it is nothing but phenol, propanol and an amine group stuck together. Phenol is benzene with a hydroxy group attached to it and benzene is a known carcinogen. I know Phenylpropanolamine has many harmful effects in large doses, but so does anything in large doses. Menthol which is in a bunch of candies and ointments is harmful to some extent, and even the ordinary Luffa is said to be carcinogenic.

Well just wondering why…

Disclaimer

– I am not claiming to be an expert in the field of pharmacy.
– I am not stating which type of medicine is better than the other.
– I am not promoting any type of brand of medicine.
– I do not work for any pharmaceutical company.
– I am not a doctor nor pharmacist.
– You may not quote me for scientific or statistical facts. I am not even sure of the spellings I wrote. It is just how I remember them. Thus this is not a reliable source of factual data.
– All brands mentioned are trademarks of their respective owners.

I am just wondering why the predominant drug differs in the US and Philippines.

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10 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with Phenylpropanolamine and Paracetamol?

  1. hi.. acetaminophen and paracetamol have the same chemical composition.. i thought you should have known that since you said you are a chemist.

  2. Yeah I’m dumb!

    Anyway, Pharmacist know that better. All I remember is the IUPAC naming conventions of Organic compounds and how to name Ionic compounds as well.

  3. yeah, acetaminophen is paracetamol like albuterol is salbutamol. Now, is phenylephrine (Disudrin) phenylpropanolamine? 2 times i received the text message about phenylpropanolamine (PPA) and its association with stroke. i looked at the internet and it seems FDA is getting rid of the PPA. but in the philippines, its still advertised on the tv (Neozep, tuseran, etc.) as a doctor, i rather prescribe disudrin, a cold medicine without (?) the PPA. but there’s no adult preparation. so i dont prescribe any cold medicine to adults except when they come to bog me at dawn.

  4. Paracetamol is a British name for Aceaminopehn. I don’t understand why Phenylpropanolamine is used in the Philippines still. I just email Pfizer Philippines and Unilab about it. I wonder now what they will say.

    I am a nursing student in Canada. I lived in the Philippines 3 years ago. I have been drinking drugs with Phenylpropanolamine for years. Neozep, Sinutab, Decolgen, you name it.

    In fact, I still have some in my room.

    What wonders me more is that Sinutab in the Philippines uses Pheynlpropanolamine (associated with stroke in young women ages 18-24), but Sinutab in Canada uses Psuedoephedrine. Why is that? I also emailed Pfizer Philippines about that.

    I think we, Filipinos should also get the same drugs if Phenylpropanalamine is proven dangerous.

  5. The Filipino people must know about this.

    http://www.fda.gov/CDER/drug/infopage/ppa/

    On December 22, 2005 the FDA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (notice) for over-the-counter (OTC) nasal decongestant and weight control products containing phenylpropanolamine preparations. This proposed rule reclassifies phenylpropanolamine as nonmonograph (Category II) not generally recognized as safe and effective.

  6. That is a very interesting query you’ve got there about Philippine medicine. Well, you can always do research on these chemicals being a chemist right? or is that field already for the pharmacist?

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