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Sulfite drug warnings.

Sulfite drug warnings

An estimated 500,000 to 1 million people in the United States may be sensitive to sulfites, a group of chemicals used as preservatives. Because many serious reactions, including 14 deaths in recent years, have been linked to sulfite use in restaurant salads and other foods, regulations were enacted earlier this year banning sulfites from fresh fruits and vegetables (SN: 8/17/85, p.100).

But an estimated 1,100 prescription drugs, mainly intravenous solutions or injectable medications, also rely on sulfites to reduce or prevent oxidation--a major cause of drug deterioration. To limit inadvertent life-threatening sulfite exposure, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that as of June 3, 1987, it will require that these drugs carry warning labels.

The largest group of sulfite-sensitive individuals appears to be asthmatics, 10 percent of whom may experience allergic-type sulfite reactions. Ironically, FDA notes, nearly all of the injectable epinephrine preparations used to treat severe allergic reactions contain sulfites. FDA has received more than 40 reports of possible sulfite reactions linked to these and other prescription drugs. Though no similar reactions have been linked to nonprescription drugs, members of the Washington, D.C.-based Proprietary Association, who manufacture 90 to 95 percent of all U.S. over-the-counter drugs, have volunteered to provide similar sulfite warnings on their products (SN: 12/21&28/85, p.397).
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Publication:Science News
Date:Dec 13, 1986
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