New safety information on ambroxol- and bromhexine-containing expectorants
The CMDh has endorsed by majority vote recommendations to update the product information for ambroxol- and bromhexine-containing medicines with information about the small risk of severe allergic reactions and severe cutaneous adverse reactions (SCARs). The medicines are widely available in the EU for use as expectorants (to help clear mucus from the airways).
The recommendations were originally made by EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC), which confirmed the previously known risk of allergic reactions and also identified a small risk of SCARs. As a result, SCARs are now to be listed as side effects in the product information for these medicines, and patients are to stop treatment immediately if symptoms of SCARs occur. Reports of severe allergic reactions and SCARs in patients taking the medicines are rare, and the frequency of these side effects are unknown. In making the recommendations, the PRAC evaluated available data on ambroxol and bromhexine, including reports of severe allergic reactions or SCARs. As the CMDh position was adopted by majority vote, the CMDh position will now be sent to the European Commission, which will take an EU-wide legally binding decision.
Information to patients
- There is a small risk of allergy and skin reactions with ambroxol and bromhexine, including reports of severe allergic reactions or SCARs.
- If you experience allergic or skin reactions such as skin swelling or rash, stop treatment immediately and contact your doctor.
- If you are taking ambroxol or bromhexine and have any questions or concerns speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Information to healthcare professionals
- Anaphylactic reactions and severe cutaneous adverse reactions (SCARs), including erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis and acute generalised exanthematous pustulosis, have been reported in patients receiving ambroxol.
- As ambroxol is a metabolite of bromhexine, the risk of anaphylactic and severe cutaneous reactions is considered to apply also to bromhexine.
- The risk of anaphylactic reactions and SCARs with ambroxol or bromhexine is low. Frequencies of these side effects are unknown.
- Advise your patients that they should stop treatment immediately if symptoms of progressive skin rash occur.
More information is accessible on the EMA’s webpages or here.