INDIANAPOLIS — Some popular allergy medicines could soon be gone from store shelves due to the findings of a Food And Drug Administration panel that indicate the medicines simply don’t work.

Popular drugs including Benadryl Allergy, Sudafed PE and Tylenol Cold and Flu use the active ingredient phenylephrine.  Americans have been using phenylephrine since the 1970s to shrink blood vessels in the nose to relieve sinus pressure and congestion. 

About 50 years later, new findings show the oral form of these medications don’t work like they should.  In fact, after it’s metabolized by the body, the findings show only about 1% of the active ingredient actually reaches the nose.

The findings don’t mean the medicines are not safe.  They also don’t mean the same ingredient in a nasal spray won’t work.  However, the findings mean the FDA could pull the oral medicines from store shelves because they don’t work like they’re supposed to.

However, if you have some of these drugs in your medicine cabinet, you may not want to throw them out just yet.  Other ingredients in the medicines could still have some benefits.  For example, while NyQuil contains phenylephrine for decongestion, it also has other ingredients for fever, pain and cough that could still help you.

There’s no timetable for when these drugs could be pulled off shelves.  If it does happen, they could be replaced by more medicines that contain a similar ingredient, pseudoephedrine, which has proven to be more effective.