Cough and congestion are among the most common situations that are experienced by many people across the globe each year. Although most of these are temporary and don’t require medication, yet, each passing hour with cough and congestion can feel like an eternity. Also, humans have been suffering from these problems for thousands of years, and the first-ever decongestant, Ephedrine, is believed to be developed at least 5,000 years ago in China. It is extracted from the shrub family of Ephedra. Interestingly, it is still used in Chinese medicine; however, nowadays, people around the world use Vicks as their go-to decongestant because it provides immediate relief and allows one to have a good rest. Moreover, it is trusted by billions of people, and Vicks has become synonymous with decongestants.
What is Vicks?
When talking about Vicks, people are describing either Vaporub, either in the form of a balm or inhaler. The former is a form of ointment that is applied to the chest, forehead, and throat to relieve congestion, unclog sinuses, and suppress cough, respectively, while the inhaler is rubbed around the nose for quick relief from clogged sinuses. Occasionally, it is also utilized as an ointment to treat minor muscle and joint pain. Interestingly, both products are menthol-based with the same ingredients and both produce an identical result, the only difference being that the inhaler doesn’t have a sticky feeling to it. North Carolina’s pharmacist, Lunsford Richardson is credited with the invention of Vicks Vaporub. He created this ointment by blending menthol and petroleum jelly to treat his son, Smith Richardson who was suffering from croup, a condition where upper respiratory airways are blocked resulting in severe coughing. Originally, it was called Richardson’s Croup and Pneumonia Cure Salve; however, it was later changed to Vicks Vaporub by Smith Richardson, which was named after his brother-in-law, Joshua Vick. He was also a physician, and he helped Richardson’s family to get access to a laboratory to create the Vicks Vaporub. The first-ever Vicks Vaporub was sold in 1905, and nearly 35 years later, the first-ever Vicks VapoInhaler was launched in 1941. Since then, Vicks under the parent company Procter & Gamble has almost become a staple in most households. Presently, Vicks has 9 products, and all of them are used by millions of people around the world.
List of Countries where Vicks is Banned
In the land of the rising Sun, one product of Vicks is banned for a long time, and it is Vicks Inhaler. Not only it is banned in Japan but if someone is found with this product, usually tourists, they can face serious jail time.
Reason for the Ban
Japan has a strict policy against anti-stimulant drugs because of its history of abuse and overdose among youths. Vicks Inhaler contains a substance known as pseudoephedrine, which is exclusively used in nasal spray and decongestants. According to their policy, tourists must not bring Vicks Inhaler with them because it will be considered as a controlled substance despite a prescription, and one can be charged with the crime of smuggling drugs. Thankfully, there are plenty of domestic decongestants and inhalers available in Japan that don’t use pseudoephedrine. Moreover, travelers can visit any Japanese doctor to receive a prescription, as over-the-counter medicines are expensive comparatively.
Interestingly, Vicks Vaporub and Inhalers are readily available in India; however, they launched a tablet known as Vicks Action 500, which was banned in 2016.
Reason for the Ban
In 2016, India passed a law that stated substances that interact poorly with other chemicals must not be sold or produced, and all the medicines that had poorly interacting combinations were banned right away, in total 344 medicines were banned. In the case of Vicks Action 500, it contained Paracetamol, Phenylephrine Hydrochloride, and Caffeine. Although Paracetamol is usually prescribed with other antibiotics, the Drugs Technical Advisory Board of India conducted tests, and they found out that this particular combination was causing problems, hence, it was banned. Although, the parent company, Procter & Gamble has filed a case against the ban for their product, so far, it remains banned.
Although Vicks Vaporub has been around for over 100 years, doctors expressed their concerns against the use of it on infants and young children in 2009. Being such a trusted brand, people often apply Vicks Vaporub on young children to provide them relief from cough and congestion; however, when researchers conducted a study on ferrets that have a nearly identical respiratory system to humans, it was found that Vicks Vaporub increases mucus production and decreases the body’s ability to clean that mucus. While adults can tolerate such alteration in their airways, it can cause severe respiratory problems in infants. Thanks to this finding, Vicks Vaporub has now changed its label, which indicates that it must not be used on infants and children under 2, and they have also introduced a baby formula Vaporub, but it is still best not to use it on young children.