October 24, 2023
An advisory committee of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) concluded in September that a common decongestant ingredient, phenylephrine, which is used in more than 250 over-the-counter medications, is ineffective. With cold season underway, COVID-19 cases rising and influenza likely to peak in the winter, what’s the best way to navigate this new development? We spoke with Dr. Ravi Kavasery, Blue Shield of California’s deputy chief medical officer, to see if you need to clean out your medicine cabinet and to help you find other ways to relieve nasal congestion.
First of all, what is phenylephrine?
Phenylephrine is a common ingredient in a variety of cold and flu treatments, such as nasal sprays, oral tablets and cough syrup. It’s found in popular brand-name products such as Nyquil, Theraflu and Robitussin, and a whole host of generic offerings at pharmacies and grocery stores. Chemically speaking, phenylephrine works by temporarily constricting blood vessels. You will see it in common medications formulated as a salt, such as pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, typically abbreviated to “pseudoephedrine HCl” on the label.
What did the FDA committee find wrong with it?
The FDA panel reviewed several existing studies, concluding that the drug at its existing dosages — often 10 mg — was no better than a placebo. In short, phenylephrine gets attacked by enzymes in the stomach, rendering it ineffective. It never gets to the nose. The report noted that an effective dosing level for phenylephrine has not been established, but clinical data shows levels of 80 to 90 mg would result in rises in blood pressure. Half that dose, 40 mg, which would be considered safe, was found to be ineffective. (If you want to see the comprehensive review on the topic, the full document can be found here.)
Should I throw out medications that contain phenylephrine?
Not necessarily. First of all, phenylephrine has not been declared dangerous, just ineffective. The FDA will likely ban its use in the near future, but the agency might give companies some time to phase it out. If you have to restock your supply of nasal decongestant anyway, you should consider other options. Just know that if you do continue to take a cold medication with phenylephrine, the ingredient won’t relieve your nasal congestion.
So what are some alternatives to phenylephrine?
Alternate solutions include:
- Nasal irrigation. Neti pots involve running a saline solution through your nasal passages to rinse out debris or mucus. It can help relieve symptoms of congestion and be good for sinus health, but it’s important to use good hygiene. Use distilled or sterile water. You can sterilize tap water by boiling it for five minutes then letting it cool to a lukewarm temperature. Use the recommended ratio of salt to water, which can be bought already in premixed packets of sodium chloride (salt) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). You can find more on Neti pots here.
- Vaporizers and humidifiers. Both devices work to add moisture to the air in a room. They can help reduce stuffiness, loosen mucus and alleviate a cough. Be mindful of keeping them clean.
- Nasal sprays. Nasal steroids, such as Flonase, and nasal antihistamines, such as azelastine, are another solution. There’s also oxymetazoline (brand name Afrin), which is sold over-the-counter as a 12-hour spray, but is intended to only be used for a maximum of three days. You might want to first try a simple solution: saline (salt water) nasal sprays can help moisturize and open up nasal passages.
What other advice do you have?
Keep in mind that while there are many ways to relieve nasal congestion, make sure to check with your doctor if symptoms linger. You should also talk with your physician if you want to try a new medication and have certain health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, which can be affected by medications such as pseudoephedrine, oxymetazoline and others. But overall, see what remedies work best for you.
Here’s wishing you good health during the time of year we see a spike in cases of respiratory-related illnesses.
Organization Ranks University’s BSN, LVN to BSN Programs No. 8 in the State
By CVV News-Posted: October 10, 2022
Stanislaus State’s School of Nursing programs rank among the Top 10 in California for 2023, according to RegisteredNursing.org.
The organization, which promotes excellence in nursing by providing future and current nurses with education and employment resources, ranked Stan State’s nursing program No. 8 in California.
Nursing programs were assessed on several factors that represent how well a program supports students towards licensure and beyond. RegisteredNursing.org analyzed past and present first-time National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam “pass-rates,” weighted by year. The NCLEX-RN exam is used by all nursing state boards across the United States to help assess a student’s competency and is required for licensure.
“Stanislaus State is widely renowned for the strength of its nursing program, which is tailored to the fast-paced career track that many nurses require,” according to the announcement by RegisteredNursing.org. “Numerous pathways, including a pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) to BSN and more, help students meet their nursing career goals. Successful graduates pass the state’s NCLEX-RN exam and find meaningful work in patient care.”
The organization issued Stan State a score of 98.28 of 100 for its BSN and LVN to BSN programs.
Stanislaus State’s School of Nursing continues to earn recognition for its programs and successful student outcomes. Last June, Nursing Schools Almanac named Stan State among the best schools in California in their 2022 Nursing Schools Rankings report. In September, U.S. News & World Report ranked Stan State’s undergraduate nursing programs No. 293 in the nation, leaping 39 slots from the previous year.
School of Nursing Ranks Among the Best in California and Western United States
By CVV News-Posted: June 30, 2022
Stanislaus State’s School of Nursing has been ranked among the best nursing schools in California and the Western United States by Nursing Schools Almanac, a website dedicated to providing aspiring nurses a comprehensive and analytical resource for selecting a nursing school.
In its 2022 Nursing School Rankings report, the website ranked the University’s School of Nursing No. 26 on its 100 Best Nursing Schools in California list and No. 51 on its 100 Best Nursing Schools in the West.
“This ranking is a reflection of the exceptional programs offered by our faculty and their solid commitment to student success,” said School of Nursing Director and Professor Mary Jo Stanley. “While Stan State is not large when compared to other nursing schools, our graduates are consistently among the best educated and prepared.”
This ranking is a reflection of the exceptional programs offered by our faculty and their solid commitment to student success. While Stan State is not large when compared to other nursing schools, our graduates are consistently among the best educated and prepared.”
School of Nursing Director and Professor Mary Jo Stanley
The Nursing Schools Almanac research team collected data on more than 3,000 nursing schools and campuses across the United States, and only 20% made the top 100 lists for each geographic region. For the rankings, schools were evaluated on the following factors:
Academic prestige and perceived value Breadth and depth of programs Student success, particularly on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the nationwide examination for licensing nurses in the United States, Canada and Australia.
The Nursing Schools Almanac report noted that Stan State pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduates achieved an “outstanding” pass rate of 97% on the NCLEX over the past decade.
Stan State’s School of Nursing offers seven degree pathways including a traditional BSN; an RN-to-BSN track for local nurses with an associate degree; an online RN-to-BSN program that’s accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week; a Master of Science in Nursing program; and a Master of Science in Nursing with a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) concentration.
Nursing students also participate in a simulation program that’s integrated into the curriculum and provides students with opportunities for experiential learning.