Nobody likes having a stuffy nose, but a new warning from the FDA is encouraging producers of over-the-counter nasal decongestants to make their products tamper-free. The FDA is warning against over-use of  Benzedrex, the brand name for its nasal decongestant propylhexedrine.  

Propylhexedrine is safe when used as directed and available over the counter. But , the FDA is warning that if used improperly the user could encounter

“… fast or abnormal heart rhythm, high blood pressure, and paranoia, can lead to hospitalization, disability, or death. ” According to a statement from the agency, there have been increasing reports of propylhexedrine abuse .  

Propylhexedrine may be used to get high. Propylhexedrine is not an amphetamine but it may work somewhat like one , and according to the Laguna Treatment Hospital, a rehabilitation center in California, propylhexedrine is chemically very similar to methamphetamine. There have been reports of individuals perishing from abusing propylhexedrine and combining it with other compounds to inject intravenously.  

To prevent abuse the FDA is calling on manufacturers to “ consider product design changes that support its safe use,” things that would make it harder for people to tamper with the device. They also encouraged producers to lower the amount of propylhexedrine in each individual inhaler.  

According to the Laguna Treatment Hospital, those that are abusing the nasal decongestants often need to receive the active ingredients from their packaging and process them before misusing them. The FDA reports that there’s no medication that could reverse the effects of propylhexedrine, so only the adverse symptoms may be treated.

Sabrina Emms is a science journalist. She got her start as an intern at a health and science podcast out of Philadelphia public radio. She worked as a researcher, looking at the way bones are shaped .

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