The National Stroke Association
(NSA) urges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make a rapid but
thorough investigation to consider the risks and benefits of
phenylpropanolamine (PPA), which is contained in many over-the-counter cough
and cold medications and diet drugs.
On Thursday, the FDA panel of scientific advisors issued a report that
said the drug PPA should not be classified as safe and may increase the risk
of hemorrhagic stroke in people, primarily women, under the age of 50. The
drug constricts blood vessels and may seriously raise a person's blood
pressure, which could cause a hemorrhage.
The FDA is not required to act on the advice of its panel, but in most
cases takes the advisors recommendations.
According to Dr. Lawrence Brass, Professor of Neurology at Yale and NSA
member, who was one of the neurologists on the study states, "There was
16-fold increase in the rate of women experiencing hemorrhagic stroke who were
first time users of diet preparations containing PPA." Dr. Brass conducted
this study during the past nine years. The results of his study concluded
that between 200 to 400 hemorrhagic strokes per year may be attributed to the
use of medications containing PPA.
Dr. Brass says, "There are alternative cold medications available without PPA. In the meantime, while the FDA is weighing all the evidence from this report, consumers can check their cough and cold medicine package labels to see if the medications contain PPA."
Patti Shwayder, CEO of the National Stroke Association says, "When we know
that stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer each year, and you find
out that PPA is a main ingredient in over-the-counter diet drugs and cough and
cold medications, we must get this information out to the public."
Stroke affects more than three quarters of a million people every year.
Of those, 160,000 will die. Hemorrhagic stroke is the least common but is the
most deadly. Risk factors include: high blood pressure, alcohol and drug
abuse, blood coagulation disorders and some anti-coagulant medications.
Based in Englewood, Colo., National Stroke Association is a leading
independent national non-profit organization devoting 100 percent of its
efforts and resources to stroke -- including prevention, treatment,
rehabilitation and support for stroke survivors and their families. For more
information on stroke or any of NSA's programs, contact the National Stroke
Association at 1-800-STROKES (1-800-787-6537) or visit http://www.stroke.org.
SOURCE National Stroke Association