Nobody likes having a stuffy nose, but a new warning from the FDA is encouraging over-the-counter nasal relief manufacturers to make their products tamper-free. The FDA warns against overuse of Benzedrex, the brand name for the decongestant propylhexedrine in the nose.
Propylhexedrine is safe when used as directed and available over the counter. However, the FDA warns that improper use could result in user experience
“… fast or abnormal heart rhythm, high blood pressure and paranoia can lead to hospitalization, disability or death.” There are increasing reports of propylhexedrine abuse, according to an agency statement.
Propylhexedrine can be used to get high. Propylhexedrine is not an amphetamine, but it can act a bit like one. According to the Laguna Treatment Hospital, a rehabilitation center in California, propylhexedrine is chemically very similar to methamphetamine. People have been reported to die from misusing propylhexedrine and combining it with other compounds for intravenous injection.
To prevent misuse, the FDA urges manufacturers to “incorporate changes to product design that support safe use”. This would make it difficult for people to manipulate the device. They also encouraged manufacturers to reduce the amount of propylhexedrine in each individual inhaler.
According to the Laguna Treatment Hospital, people who abuse nose decongestants often need to take the active ingredients out of the packaging and process them before abusing them. The FDA reports that there are no drugs that can reverse the effects of propylhexedrine, so only the adverse symptoms can be treated.
Sabrina Emms is a science journalist. She began as an intern on a health and science podcast on Philadelphia public radio. Before that, she worked as a researcher studying the way bones are formed.