Harvard Health Letter

Active ingredients in selected cold medicines

Active ingredients in selected cold medicines

Product

Ingredients* (purpose)

Price**

Aleve Cold and Sinus

10 caplets

Naproxen, 200 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Pseudoephedrine, 120 mg (nasal decongestant)

$5.99

Alka Seltzer Cold and Cough

12 tablets

Acetaminophen, 325 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Chlorpheniramine maleate, 2 mg (antihistamine)

Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, 10 mg (cough suppressant)

Phenylephrine hydrochloride, 5 mg (nasal decongestant)

$5.49

Comtrex Cold and Dough, non-drowsy, maximum strength

20 tablets

Acetaminophen, 325 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, 10 mg (cough suppressant)

Phenylephrine hydrochloride, 5 mg (nasal decongestant)

$5.99

Comtrex, day/night, maximum strength

10 tablets

Acetaminophen, 325 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Chlorpheniramine maleate, 2 mg (antihistamine — only in the nighttime pills)

Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, 10 mg (cough suppressant)

Phenylephrine hydrochloride, 5 mg (nasal decongestant)

$5.99

Contac Cold and Flu, maximum strength

36 caplets

Acetaminophen, 500 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Chlorpheniramine maleate, 2 mg (antihistamine)

Phenylephrine hydrochloride, 5 mg (nasal decongestant)

$6.49

Dayquil Cold and Flu Multisymptom Relief

12 caplets

Acetaminophen, 325 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, 10 mg (cough suppressant)

Phenylephrine hydrochloride, 5 mg (nasal decongestant)

$5.79

Nyquil Cold and Flu Multisymptom

12 caplets

Acetaminophen, 325 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, 15 mg (cough suppressant)

Doxylamine succinate, 6.25 mg (antihistamine)

$5.79

Robitussin Cough and Cold

8 ounces (237 ml)

Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, 10 mg (cough suppressant)#

Guaifenesin, 100 mg (cough expectorant)

Phenylephrine hydrochloride, 5 mg (nasal decongestant)

(#per 5 ml)

$8.49

Theraflu Nighttime Severe Cold

6 packets

Acetaminophen, 650 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Pheniramine maleate, 20 mg (antihistamine)

Phenylephrine hydrochloride, 10 mg (nasal decongestant)

$6.59

Tylenol Cold Multisymptom Nighttime

24 caplets

Acetaminophen, 325 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Chlorpheniramine maleate, 2 mg (antihistamine)

Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, 10 mg (cough suppressant)

Phenylephrine hydrochloride, 5 mg (nasal decongestant)

$6.49

Tylenol Cold Multisymptom Severe

24 caplets

Acetaminophen, 325 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, 10 mg (cough suppressant)

Guaifenesin, 200 mg (cough expectorant)

Phenylephrine hydrochloride, 5 mg (nasal decongestant)

$6.99

Vicks Formula 44 Cough, Cold and Flu Relief

4 ounces (118 ml)

Acetaminophen, 162.5 mg (pain reliever/fever reducer)#

Chlorpheniramine maleate, 1 mg (antihistamine)

Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, 7.5 mg (cough suppressant)

(#per 5 ml)

$5.99

Zicam Multisymptom Cold and Flu, nighttime

6 single-dose spoons

Acetaminophen, 650 mg (pain reliever, fever reducer)

Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, 20 mg (cough suppressant)

Doxylamine succinate, 12.5 mg (antihistamine)

Phenylephrine hydrochloride, 5 mg (nasal decongestant)

$8.99

*Unless otherwise indicated, ingredient amounts are per tablet.

**Prices recorded at retail CVS store in Boston in January 2008.

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