The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has recalled dozens of cough medicines containing pholcodine from Aussie pharmacies due to serious safety concerns.

The TGA announced on Tuesday that an investigation linked the ingredient with an increased risk of potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reactions to certain medicines used during general anaesthesia.

Fkn big yikes.

Forty-four products containing pholcodine, including cough syrups and lozenges, have been recalled and cancelled from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. A further 11 products not currently on shelves have also been pulled from the registry.

The TGA released a big ol’ list of the products affected by the recall, including those manufactured by Benadryl, Codral, Chemists’ Own, TerryWhite, Priceline, Difflam, Bisolvon, Duro-Tuss, Amcal and more.

Pholcodine is also used in products which treat cold and flu symptoms, so you might want to read those packets carefully, as well.

Per the ABC, anaesthetists have wanted the TGA to nix products containing pholcodine for yonks, citing evidence from Norway and Sweden which showed a potential link between the ingredient and anaphylaxis while under general anaesthetic.

According to the TGA’s Database of Adverse Event Notifications, as of February 9, 2023, 50 cases of suspected pholcodine-related anaphylactic reactions to neuromuscular blockers — muscle relaxants used while you’re conked out under general anaesthesia — have been recorded. Sadly, this included one death.

“It is difficult to reliably predict who may be at risk of anaphylaxis during anaesthesia and some patients may not know if they have taken pholcodine medicines recently,” TGA head John Skerritt said in a statement.

“In addition, while surgical facilities may ask about which prescription medicines a patient is taking, they may not ask about over the counter products.”

Before you raid the medicine cabinet for a lil’ something to take the edge off your dry cough, the TGA is recommending that you check the ingredients to see if pholcodine is on the menu.

If the medication does include the ingredient, it’s suggested that you ask your doctor or pharmacist for an alternative.

And if you think you’ve taken pholcodine within the past 12 months and need general anaesthesia, let your health professional know.

Given how many flus have been doing the rounds, not to mention that bloody bastard known as COVID-19, I’d hazard a guess that loads of us have taken cough syrup or suckled on a lozenge at some point recently — so take care, mates.

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