english.prescrire.org > Spotlight > 100 most recent > • Safety signals: loss of sense of smell = danger


Every month, the subjects in Prescrire’s Spotlight.

100 most recent :  1 | 10 | 20 | 30 | 40 | 50 | 60 | 70 | 80 | 90

• Safety signals: loss of sense of smell = danger

As the unending wave of medical information hits a fever pitch, it's more important then ever to remember to follow one's nose.

APRIL FOOL'S! Yes, you guessed it. Prescrire's "News Update" announcing the decision to withdraw all nasal decongestants from the pan-European market was in fact an April fool's prank. As was the Prescrire Editorial Staff's accompanying review of the new product "Pseudoeffichacine (Ateuchoum°)". A prank designed to remind readers not to let the dizzying speed of medical and other news get in the way of clear thinking and careful analysis.

One thing that is no joke: the serious adverse effects that nasal decongestants cause. Decongestants for oral or nasal use (ephedrine, naphazoline, oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine and tuaminoheptane) are sympathomimetic vasoconstrictors. They can cause serious and even life-threatening cardiovascular disorders (hypertensive crisis, stroke, and arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation), as well as ischaemic colitis.These adverse effects are unacceptable for drugs indicated for minor, rapidly self-resolving symptoms such as those associated with the common cold.
See: "Drugs to avoid in the name of better patient care: 2021 update"

39 years of "fishy business" in April

Poisson d'avril !The traditional April prank by Prescrire's editors serves as an annual "booster shot" to remind us all that, in the serious business of medical information, it pays to exercise critical judgement at all times.

In April 1983 Prescrire's "special correspondent" revealed to enthralled readers the enormous interest of protryptophane in the treatment of acute senility... And ever since, the experiment has been repeated yearly in La revue Prescrire's April issue.

And on a few occasions, Prescrire's "April fish" (as the seasonal pranks are known in France) have even made it into the English edition, Prescrire International. One of these is included below, in this sampling of Prescrire's yearly "Poissons d'avril".

Greatest hits from Prescrire's annual "Poisson d'avril" prank

©Prescrire 1 April 2021

Share on  Facebook Share on  Twitter

For more information:

"Retrait du marché
pan-européen de tous
les décongestionnants nasaux"
(1 April 2021)

"Drugs to avoid in the name
of better patient care -
2021 update"
(February 2021)

Read more:

All the subjects in
Prescrire's Spotlight
Free >