House Republicans will probe FDA over decision on decongestant

House Republicans will launch an investigation into the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision that found a common decongestant in cold medicines was ineffective.

A House Oversight subcommittee sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Sunday to ask him to brief the members on the decision to label the decongestant, known as phenylephrine, as ineffective in September. The House Oversight Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services is questioning how it took so long for the FDA to conclude that the drug was ineffective despite prior evidence over the years that said otherwise.

“Due to these concerns, we ask that you provide a staff-level briefing to assist the Subcommittee’s oversight of this matter,” the letter, provided to The Hill, states.

The lawmakers are asking for a briefing on the decision no later than Dec. 11.

The subcommittee, spearheaded by Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.), said it is “concerning” that the FDA’s Nonprescription Drug Advisory Committee “relied upon outdated and insufficient evidence regarding phenylephrine’s use as a decongestant for so many years.”

All 16 members of the advisory committee voted “no” when asked a question on phenylephrine efficacy in September. The over-the-counter medication is sold in products like Sudafed PE Sinus Congestion and Benadryl Allergy Plus Congestion ULTRATABS. It is labeled as “safe and effective” under the FDA.

The letter said people seeking over-the-counter relief “should not have to worry whether they are wasting their hard-earned money on ineffective drugs.”

“It is important that the American people have confidence in the FDA’s approvals and trust that the drugs they purchase are not only safe, but also effective,” the letter reads.

Axios first reported news of the investigation.

The Hill has reached out to the FDA for comment.

Updated at 11:01 a.m.

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