LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)– A leading ingredient in products like DayQuil, NyQuil, Robitussin, versions of Sudafed and other medications millions of people use for relief is being questioned.

This comes after the 16-member panel with the FDA said that a commonly used dose of the decongestant phenylephrine doesn’t work. 

Phenylephrine became the main drug in over-the-counter decongestants when medicines with an older ingredient, pseudoephedrine, were moved behind pharmacy counters.

Dr. Brent Prather, Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center, spoke with News 10 and shared that he was surprised by the latest discovery. 

“I’m very surprised,” Prather said. “I will be honest with you. Practicing for the last 43 years, I have seen responses to phenylephrine, which is the product they’re talking about that’s in a lot of cold medicines, and so it shocked me when I saw that on the national news.” 

He shared how he would have to do some reading on the study. 

“They’re constantly having reviews of medicines that we’ve used for decades, and who knows, maybe they’re right, maybe it really doesn’t work,” Prather said. “It might be a placebo, but I’ve taken it myself, and I feel like it works when I take it,” he said. “I think the phenylephrine that is in cold medicine is personally mildly effective. It’s not dramatically effective, but it does have a slightly decongested effect.” 

Experts said the products with phenylephrine are ineffective because the stomach ends up digesting the medicine, and by the time it reaches the nasal, there is not much of an impact. Prather said he is seeing a lot of congestion. 

“The heat and the typical fall problems that we have at this time of the year,” Prather said. “With the cutting of the sugarcane, the high grass pollen counts. The mold counts, and the weed counts. You put all of that together, it’s a recipe for nasal allergy symptoms, and it would be that way until almost Christmas.”

He said nasal spray is the best option to use as the flu and cold season nears.

“I do know very conclusively that nasal spray works better than any antihistamine or oral decongestant for helping a congested nose,” Prather said.

The FDA must decide on whether they will vote to ban the ingredient altogether. A timeline of when that will happen has not been reveal yet.