Sudafed PE: Pregnant Women Should Watch Out For Reformulated Medicines

Not to malign the good name of Sudafed, but it seems there is some debate out there as to whether or not pregnant women should take the reformulated “Sudafed PE.” Obviously, we are in no way doctors, nor do we know the first damn thing about pregnant woman, but we do know that several medicines have reformulated in order to stay on the shelves and we wanted to make sure people knew about it. Because Sudafed contains an ingredient used to make meth, some states now require it to be stored behind the pharmacist’s counter. Reasonable enough. The confusion comes in when people don’t realize that the new “on-the-shelf” Sudafed contains different ingredients than the old Sudafed.

Sudafed PE, (new Sudafed) contains a different decongestant than old Sudafed. The new ingredient is called Phenyleprine, which is a vasoconstrictor. Some doctors recommend that pregnant women avoid vasoconstrictors. Ask your doctor about all the medicines that you take, and be aware that some of them may have recently changed.

Thanks, methheads for creating this hassle. You rule. —MEGHANN MARCO

Taking Sudafed PE While Pregnant [Shakyard]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    Nobody should take Sudafed PE. Shit doesn’t work for shit.

  2. jackdangers says:

    Not that I would claim to know anything about pregnancy health, but wouldn’t pseudoephedrine not be that great for a pregnant woman as well? That stuff’s pretty powerful…got me through 4 years of frantic, over-night paper writing in college.

  3. Skeptic says:

    The confusion arises because Sudafed is named for the ingredient Pseudoephedrine. Now that “Sudafed” no longer contains “pseudophed” should stop calling the product “Sudafed”!!! It’s like having water free water, it just doesn’t make sense.

    I really don’t care if people can make meth out of Pseudoephedrine. It is an effective drug and they shouldn’t restrict it because other people misuse it. In fact, there are moves to ban it for non prescription use. What’s next? Ban selling sugar because people might make alcohol? (Probably been done. Still stupid.)

  4. velocipenguin says:

    Phenylephrine (the active ingredient in Sudafed PE) makes me uncomfortably wired but doesn’t do a thing for congestion. I don’t care whether or not people are cooking meth from pseudoephedrine; I just wish an effective decongestant were still available on the US market.

  5. kerry says:

    I always had to take a half dose of the real pseudoephedrine, because full adult strength made me stoned. The PE, however, works as long as I take a full dose, though not quite as well as a half dose of pseudoephedrine. Annoying to go behind the counter, but very necessary for when I need daytime sinus medication. The night time stuff I just use the PE because a full dose of the added antihistamine gets me to sleep better, anyway.
    Some pharmacies here take down your name and the quantity of pseudoephedrine you’ve purchased. There are quantity limits per month, in addition to keeping it behind the counter. My biggest problem with having to go the pharmacy is that the clerk there doesn’t know what any of the products are. So I say “tylenol sinus daytime” and he comes back with the wrong box about a dozen times before I finds the correct one. Once they didn’t have what I wanted, so I asked if the alternative he was suggesting was non-drowsy. He didn’t know. Thanks, fake pharmacist.

  6. roamer1 says:

    AIUI, the requirements to keep pseudoephedrine behind the counter, request ID, log purchasers’ info, etc. are now Federal law. :-/ Even a lot of pharmacists are dismayed by the backlash against it, saying that the shift in ingredients is confusing people and that phenylephrine doesn’t work for a lot of people. (It doesn’t work well at all for me.)

    @Skeptic: Oregon has indeed made pseudoephedrine Rx (an extreme response to the meth problem, IMO, and a little absurd given the fact that the state’s largest city sits on a state line…Washington state hasn’t made it Rx yet), but I haven’t heard of any major push to do so elsewhere.

    @kerry: Most places around here (at least Walgreens, and Target stores with pharmacies) have cards that you take to the counter to get what you want; that seems to reduce the confusion.

  7. gina227 says:

    As someone who suffers from major sinus headaches that last for days and render me completely useless, I can tell you that the new Sudafed doesn’t work worth a damn. At least not on me. Does anyone know off the top of their heads if there are any sinus meds that are still using pseudoephedrine?

    IIRC, when I preggers, my doc told me no decongestants of any kind during the first three months, after that it was ok. However, be aware that it can make you test positive for meth. My friend’s baby was stillborn and they couldn’t figure out why, but she had tested positive for meth, even though she doesn’t do it. When she was pregnant with her next baby, the doc insisted on testing her for drugs, and lo and behold, she tested positive again. She was nearly arrested because the doctor didn’t believe her. In the end, she had to get a statement from the drug company saying that it could cause a positive result. Thankfully, the second baby was healthy and perfect.

  8. etinterrapax says:

    Decongestants can cause uterine contractions; that’s why they have pregnancy warnings. I asked my doctor about it in the context of airsickness remedies, and that was how I found out that Bonine and Dramamine both are technically antihistamines. I’d already taken Bonine when I didn’t know I was pregnant. Nothing bad happened, and I didn’t hurl my lunch on my flight, which was pretty much all I wanted. Apparently they consider Benadryl safer for that use while pregnant, but none of them are class X drugs (contraindicated during pregnancy for causing major birth defects or fetal death, like Accutane).

  9. timmus says:

    I was going to forward this to my pregnant wife, but I’m not sure about the credibility of a health story found at “”. I checked on Wikipedia but the info there is kind of vague.

  10. itsgene says:

    Does anyone else notice that the old Sudafed package contains 24 tablets, while the “new improved” reformulated version only contains 18? I haven’t priced Sudafed lately, but I’ll bet that the price hasn’t gone down to reflect the smaller quantity…

  11. AcilletaM says:

    I thought Sudafed PE has been around for awhile, just no one bought it. Hyping the new formula is just marketing.

    And the new NyQuil? Pure shit. Green death flavor without the benefits.

  12. magic8ball says:

    @gina227: There are no more sinus meds that use actual pseudoephedrine, other than the ones that are now behind the pharmacy counter. They’ve taken it out of NyQuil, OTC allergy medications, everything. Even children’s liquid decongestants with sudafed are behind the counter now. And you can only buy one item with pseudoephedrine per day. I also go through a lot of the stuff, and having to wait in line for it at the pharmacy really pisses me off.

  13. Celeste says:

    The decision to put pseudophedrine products behind the counter was dumb dumb dumb. A b.s. move to make politicians feel better about themselves for having ‘done something’ about drugs.

    Now they’re trying to see how far they can take it. Some twit legislator in Missourri is proposing to do the same thing with baking soda. Because people make crack cocaine with baking soda.

    The absurdity of forcing everyone to provide their names and addresses for a state database that records the purchase of any legal and useful item that might be turned to nefarious purposes should eventually become evident. But it’s not going to stop unless people dig in their heels and start yelling.

  14. HawkWolf says:

    meth is the 21st century crack baby.

  15. facted says:

    Any decongestant (phenylephrine or psuedophrine) for example) are vasoconstrictors which will increase your blood pressure and theoretically cause decreased blood flow to the placenta during pregnancy. Phenylephrine has a pregnancy category C rating which means that there are no human studies suggesting harm to a fetus, although there are animal studies that have shown adverse effects. The bottom line with a category C rating is that the positive benefits of the drug may outweight the negatives in a patient. However, given that the “positive benefits” are making you feel slightly better about your runny nose, I would lay off the phenylephrine (or pseudoephrine for that matter). The bottom line is ask your doctor and don’t trust a website where people can write whatever they want.

    And btw, why is this on consumerist? Medical information is not exactly this site’s forte and the links to information websites about this topic aren’t exactly stellar. This post just sounds a little alamarist.

  16. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Living as I do in one of the meth-production centers of the country, I support putting pseudoephedrine products behind the counter. The negative impact of meth manufacture and use has been stunning — theft and violent crime on the rise, property destroyed by toxic chemicals or fire, social services overwhelmed by adults needing rehab and children needing foster homes… it goes on. The lockdown on pseudoephedrine products has actually made it harder for people to make meth, and I think that’s just fantastic.

    I don’t think it’s necessary in all areas, and I don’t think companies should stop using pseudoephedrine altogether — but in areas where meth has caught on big-time, keeping the cold meds behind the counter is a worthwhile inconvenience.

  17. s00p3rm4n says:

    I’m sorry, I frankly don’t care how many Bible-Belter Iron Maiden fans named Jethro make it to that big OzzFest in the sky. That’s the way the jawline crumbles when a country finally succumbs to the existential meaninglessness it has so long denied. “Git’R’Done” indeed. Sartre and democracy aside, I don’t deserve to get treated like a sex offender every time I get the damn sniffles. Fun fact: my ID is kept on file for TWO YEARS! And there’s no one I can complain to or plead to to have my information removed. And no one claims responsibility for safeguarding my personal information, but everyone apparently has a claim to it. Months from now, I fully expect to be ordered to walk door-to-door to tell people: “Hi, I’m a registered Sudafed user. Yes, yes I know it’s shameful. *ACHOO* Ow, please don’t hit me!”

    And I did notice the packages of Sudafed are smaller – I think it’s just so that you can’t buy it in any significant quantity. It is cheaper – around $5 now for a box. But of course you can’t get it in any other quantity, because it’s “the only size they make!” P.S. PE does shit for shit.

  18. Falconfire says:

    Because Sudafed contains an ingredient used to make meth, some states now require it to be stored behind the pharmacist’s counter. Reasonable enough.

    No its not, its completely unreasonable simply because instead of paying attention to that jackass with 20 boxes of the stupid stuff (which is how much you need to make a tiny bit of meth) the other 99% of the population who actually wants to use this stuff as medicine gets fucked over. Even more disgusting considering a shit ton more household products can ALSO be used to make meth, and that actual meth creators are not sitting there getting the shit out of medicine but getting bulk shipments of the stuff stolen from chem labs.

  19. karmaghost says:

    Medicines containing pseudoephedrine were restricted because making meth out of them was incredibly easy and insanely dangerous; the equipment used in its production is simple, homemade and can cause entire blocks to go up in flames. Baking soda (as mentioned in the production of cocaine), on the other hand, is just one of a long line of ingredients in a very complex process. Restricting pseudoephedrine has made a huge impact on meth production in the United States…

    …and in Mexico, too, where it has become the largest “cash crop” in the illicit drug scene since pseudoephedrine’s ban in the states. The biggest meth labs in the world have been found recently in Mexico, where most of North America’s meth production now takes place as the demand from within the U.S. stays relatively the same as it was before the ban, but the access to the drug is difficult.

  20. Anonymously says:

    It’s a federal law. In fact, it’s part of the Patriot Act. You know, the law that’s supposed to protect Americans from terrorism but only protects Americans from the Bill of Rights and effective decongestants.

  21. Falconfire says:

    Medicines containing pseudoephedrine were restricted because making meth out of them was incredibly easy and insanely dangerous; the equipment used in its production is simple, homemade and can cause entire blocks to go up in flames. Baking soda (as mentioned in the production of cocaine), on the other hand, is just one of a long line of ingredients in a very complex process. Restricting pseudoephedrine has made a huge impact on meth production in the United States…

    Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

    Making meth out of cold med was never easy, in fact it was next to useless. You needed huge amounts of the meds, and it was hard to refine the chemical you wanted out of it. It has in no way effected meth production since large scale production is being done with STOLEN chemicals, and not over the counter meds.

    It was restricted because a bunch of idiot law enforcement officers, and a bunch of moronic government officials thought that this would in some way have a important effect on whats for most of America not even a huge problem (meth being considered a midwest drug, where the most problematic areas exist, not surprisingly in the lands of practically nothing where people are looking for kicks) Funny enough just like all law enforcement dealing with drugs it did practically nothing for the large scale producers while fucking over the rest of america who had nothing to do with the issue just to stop a bunch of dumbass rednecks trying to cook nasty chemicals in their bathtub (some of which are illegal to sell except for specific purposes and could have easily been used to track producers, without effecting sales of cold meds)

    Its just another case of the federal government screwing things up under the guise of doing good.

  22. Marsupial says:

    I’m with Falconfire. Pseudoeph has got this ridiculous rap out there that somehow, in some mysterious way that only kitchen-lab meth cookers know, you can simply take a couple of Advil Sinus pills, say the magic words, toss them into the microwave, and… TA-DA, You’ve Got Meth! It doesn’t work that way, and people who think it does (the people in favor of this nonsense that has made for endless lines at the pharmacy counter) simply don’t know the science involved. (They should probably ban ammonia, too, since instead of mopping the floor, you could… USE IT TO MAKE METH!! AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! HELP! THE METH ADDICTS ARE TAKING OVER THE WORLD!!)

  23. @Fuzzy_Duffel_Bag: A-friggin-men.

  24. @gina227: It’s Rx, but Flo-Nase works for me in place of sudafed reasonably well for anything but a full-on sinus infection, and interacts with fewer other drugs.

    Plus that way you can get your monthly allotment of sudafed AND get some Flo-Nase since you have to stand in line for the sudafed ANYWAY.

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    Ditto on those calling “bullshit” on WarOnDrugs banning of sniffle medicine. Absurd security kabuki as bad as airport “security”.

    On a different note, vaso-constrictors are in the new stuff. Vaso-constrictors are what Viagra, etc., do to make Bob Dole as firm and jutting as a 16 year old boy at a cheerleading convention. Any brave volunteers want to check out how well these work for the GUYS?!!

  26. DiscoRaj says:

    Putting those items behind the counter benefits the retailers. Those cold meds were one of the most pilfered products. That move saves stores money. What really bothers me is that sometimes the pharmacy closes long before the store does. So at Target, for example, if I go in at 9:30 I can’t get claritinD even with the managers in tow.

  27. wesrubix says:

    Pseudoephedrine is also a vasoconstrictor.

    That’s how decongestants work. They constrict your blood vessels, in hopes of getting the ones in your nose to do the same. The constriction causes the tissue around your nostrils to tighten and as a result your nostrils become wider. Think of it as a roll of toilet paper with the cardboard tube missing. When the toilet paper shrinks into itself, the hole in the middle will get a little bigger.

    For those of you experiencing issues with Pseudophed (and PE) you should either stop using it and/or consult your doctor.

    Moreover, people who are badgering Pseudophed for not working, confirm that you are actually taking one with a vasoconstrictor in it. Namely, the smaller pills, or even better, read the ingredients. The larger oval shaped version of “Sudafed” is useless. Last I remember, it has paraphin wax and a bit of tylenol. Just look at the active ingredients for once.

    As for pregnant women, if your doctor says don’t be on vasoconstrictors, just don’t be on vasoconstrictors.

    And yes, these drugs will speed you up. You squeeze a pipe, it’s going to flow at higher pressure. They make me edgy too, but personally I think it’s worth the ability to blow my nose and breathe.