The "Missing my Sudafed" blues
October 19, 2005 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Sudafed (the real and the cheap generics both) are gone; I've been taking the stuff for 30 years, and I'm having trouble finding an alternative that works well. Can anyone share any experiences with good alternatives?

I developed moderate to sometimes not-so-moderate allergies back in my teens, and as a result I've been taking Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride ("Sudafed") for about 30 years now -- originally as a prescription drug, then over-the-counter, and for the last few years as the cheaply available generic. I normally only take the stuff at bedtime, as I often seem to get congested late at night and wake up stuffed up, or with red and sore eyes, etc., although I'll occasionally take a dose during the day if I've been around something that bothers me.

Unfortunately, due to recent skirmishes in the "war on drugs", Sudafed and the various generics are no longer available (apparently they can still be sold with lots of information gathering, but my local pharmacies are telling me they've decided not to bother).

I've tried a couple of the alternatives - my local pharmacies have started selling a phenylephrine-based alternative in place of the pseudoephedrine, which I've tried, and I've also tried loratadine ("Claritin") -- my reactions range from they don't do anything to they dry my sinuses and make me miserable. After a week of staying away from the Sudafed, I broke into the last of my stash last night and felt halfway human this morning for the first time in a week.

Are there any other formerly happy Sudafed users who've found a decent alternative?
posted by nonliteral to Health & Fitness (21 answers total)
Best answer: sells Sudafed. That would work, unless they block the purchase at some level once they figure out where you are.
posted by smackfu at 8:59 AM on October 19, 2005

IANAD but I do have hellish allergies this time of year. We can still get Sudafed here as long as we don't buy too much at once, but we did run out once and I've had okay results with two different medicines.

One was called "Cold and Allergy Tablets" in generic and Actifed in brand name. It's got Pseudoephedrine HCl and Triprolidine Hydrochloride in it and it works like a milder version of Sudafed. Dries you out but not wretchedly. Not super long lasting so maybe not perfect for bedtime. It doesn't wack me out like Sudafed though which I like. On the other hand, if you can't get Sudafed, you may not be able to get this either.

For bedtime, Benadryl [brand name for Diphenhydramine is my favorite. It's useless for daytimes because it really makes me woozy, but it's extra good for itchiness
posted by jessamyn at 9:06 AM on October 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'm fairly certain that Sudafed is available from a prescription still. A lot of over the counters are still available via perscription. Whenever I need large amounts of Zantac or Claritin (to keep around, instead of buying the $12 for 5 pill blister packs), I always hit up the doctor of a quick prescription. I'd find it very odd that a pharmacy wouldn't keep a prescription based medication as the amount of hard drugs they keep around (opiates, amphetamines, etc.) make the abuse potential sudafed laughable.
posted by geoff. at 9:24 AM on October 19, 2005

Best answer: I assume you are referring to Texas state law, SB 107, which went into effect a little over two months ago and places significant restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine in Texas. If only Sudafed provides adequate relief for your allergies, perhaps you could purchase it out of state? For something closer, the article I linked to seems to indicate that at least one CVS Pharmacy still carries Sudafed in Texas.
posted by RichardP at 9:32 AM on October 19, 2005

I've been taking OTC generic Claritin-equivalent and had better luck than I ever did with Sudafed.
posted by adamrice at 9:32 AM on October 19, 2005

I'm not sure where you live, but I've been able to purchase Sudafed on the East Coast, and, recently, in an airport in Portland. Maybe buying out of state, or online, would be an option for you.
posted by youarejustalittleant at 9:33 AM on October 19, 2005

My symptoms are much like yours. No decent alternative. I'd advise buying online or getting a prescription.
posted by desuetude at 9:39 AM on October 19, 2005

Since you indicate you suffer problems at night, I would second jessamyn's suggestion of diphenhydramine, available OTC as Benadryl. Most drugstores also offer a store-brand generic. Nothing works better for nighttime allergies in my experience.
posted by peppermint22 at 9:48 AM on October 19, 2005

I was surprised when I found out about this Texas law recently. I have still found pseudoephedrine drugs available behind the pharmacist counter at a Kroger and CVS in Dallas. They ask you for a driver's license, copy down your info into a binder, and make you sign. This seems like a terrible invasion of privacy, but you should be able to get it.
posted by babar at 10:05 AM on October 19, 2005

I've found Astelin works for me where Claritin and others have failed. It's prescription-only.
posted by Laen at 10:22 AM on October 19, 2005

FYI (and you all probably know this, but I'm gonna put it out there) this new law and all the attendant hoopla is due to the massive increase of meth use/manufacture. They're taking down your information so that they can tell if you hit every Kroger in Dallas for one pack of Sudafed each, they've got a reasonable suspicion that you're using it to cook meth, not treat your allergies.

That said, my husband likes Alavert for his allergies, which are primarily dust/pollen related but NOT pet related. Otherwise, he likes Claritin-D. I've used Tylenol Allergy-Sinus with very good results, but my allergies are very seasonal rather than what you describe.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:00 AM on October 19, 2005

Response by poster: Yep -- I'm in Texas (D/FW area). The clerk at the pharmacy told me it was a new Federal law, and I never bothered to check on out of state availability. I typically only buy it about 3-4 times a year, in the bulk 2 or 3 packs of 96 tabs each, so I'd not been paying attention to the new Texas law going into affect.

Thanks everyone for your recommendations -- I'll try ordering some Sudafed online (which will probably put me in the "potential meth lab" database, but oh well), and maybe hit up Kroger or CVS. I typically buy the bulk generic at Costco or Sams, and hadn't tried a CVS.

I'll also give Triprolidine and Alavert a try -- I'm not much for diphenhydramine, since it would be a bit counterproductive if I should need to take it during the day (I swear sometimes I'm allergic to this entire state, but usually it's dust, mold and various pollens).
posted by nonliteral at 11:31 AM on October 19, 2005

One was called "Cold and Allergy Tablets" in generic and Actifed in brand name. It's got Pseudoephedrine HCl and Triprolidine Hydrochloride in it and it works like a milder version of Sudafed.

Pseudoephedrine HCl is (the active ingredient in) Sudafed, and thus exactly what Texas' law is keeping nonliteral from having access to.

Hadn't heard of this law or its effects -- as a routine pseudoephedrine user during allergy season, I'm sorry to hear it. Won't somebody think of the allergic people? (Answer: Of course not. They're not an election hot-button.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:33 AM on October 19, 2005

Nothing (otc) works like sudafed, in my opinion. Zyrtec is a great prescription substitute.

Like someone else mentioned, is an option. If they won't ship it to you, I would have no problem getting a few packs and shipping them to you, it is still readily available in my area.
posted by necessitas at 12:14 PM on October 19, 2005

I had to go to three different pharmacies here in New York City to find one that wasn't going to make me wait in line at the pharmacy counter like an child seeking permission. I made sure to tell the managers it was a stupid rule--since it is imposed by the stores here, and not by the government--and that I would not be coming back to make my bi-weekly pseudoephedrine purchase.

All the suggestion above are things I have tried (except the Astelin), but I'm like you: pretty much pseudoephedrine is the only thing that does the trick because it doesn't dry me out, doesn't make me woozy, and has almost no rebound effect.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:16 PM on October 19, 2005

Re: Zyrtec. I took if for a semester while at school. I kept dozing off in class. I resumed normal sleep patterns when I stopped taking it.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:17 PM on October 19, 2005

Also Re: Zyrtec -- Made my husband very, very sick to his stomach. With food, without it, with milk, with water, empty stomach, whatever.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:03 PM on October 19, 2005

If your local Wal-Mart has a pharmacy, they also carry Sudafed. You are limited on the quantity you can purchase at one time, but it's a simple process - they enter your drivers license info into their computer once and any time after that, you just have to show your ID (at any Wal-Mart location).
posted by Serena at 1:36 PM on October 19, 2005

During my bad allergy time of the year (July & August) I place an air purifier on a table by my bed while I sleep (perversely, most allergy meds turn me totally insomniac). I run it all night pointed directly at my face, and it works beautifully.
posted by Sara Anne at 2:04 PM on October 19, 2005

Response by poster: A follow-up regarding -- at the end of the purchase process, they indicate that they will no longer ship products containing pseudoephedrine to residents of Texas.

I'll give CVS and Wal-Mart a shot, I guess; failing that, I may end up having to have out-of-state relatives send it to me...

At this rate, the crystal meth dealers could start a profitable sideline around here just peddling raw Sudafed to the allergic...

Thanks again, everyone!
posted by nonliteral at 3:23 PM on October 19, 2005

Have you tried nose drops, such as Afrin?* The active ingredient (Oxymetazoline HCl) is non-ephredrine based. I've used just the original spray, but their entire range, which includes a moisturizing spray, is marketed as 12-hour and non-drip.
*$1-off coupons on the website product pages! I have no affiliation with Schering-Plough.
posted by rob511 at 10:13 PM on October 19, 2005

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