It’s a tragic and shocking story.
Matthew Phelps is accused of killing his wife of less than a year by stabbing her over a hundred times.
The North Carolina man and aspiring pastor said in his call to 911 that he “had a dream and then he turned on the lights and she’s dead.”
And then he told the police something else — that he took a lot of “Coricidin Cough and Cold.”
Is it even remotely possible that a cheap and easily found OTC drug for colds is the reason Lauren Phelps suffered such a horrific and tragic death?
While we don’t know the answer to that, and maybe we never will, there’s one thing we do know for sure — this is far from the first time the drug has been implicated in aggressive and bizarre behavior.
And although health officials have known about these awful psychological side effects for a long, long time, somehow this drug and dozens of others with similar ingredients have remained easy to buy and available practically everywhere.
A hallucinatory remedy?
The fact that ingredients in Coricidin could be even distantly connected to hallucinations, agitation, and psychosis should be making headlines on the front page of every newspaper.
Instead, the story is running in the “crime” section of People magazine!
Of course, for ER docs, this isn’t anything new. People of all ages have been rushed to the hospital because of Coricidin and over 100 other OTC cough and cold drugs containing the ingredient dextromethorphan. (Some of those brands include: Vicks NyQuil Cold and Flu, Tylenol Cold and Flu, and Theraflu.)
Forensic toxicologist Dr. Richard Stripp says dextromethorphan is a “dissociative anesthetic” that can trigger “out-of-body experiences” and cause someone to “lose their ability to sense pain.”
Coricidin also contains the cough suppressant chlorpheniramine. As Dr. Stripp explains, taking high levels of that can give someone a reaction that’s similar to the street drug PCP. (Chlorpheniramine can also be found in Tylenol Cold and Flu, a Tylenol cold product for kids, and Alka-Seltzer Plus).
In fact, Bayer, the company that now makes and distributes Coricidin, even has a page up on its website titled “Information on medicine abuse,” where it makes a weak-kneed attempt to cover the bases on that little problem, pinning the blame on “teens.”
But as you and I both know, drugs can have widely different reactions in different people… at the same dose.
Yes, teens and others looking for a cheap high are in danger (along with anyone who encounters them!) — but you can run the risk of having a problem even if you follow the directions.
For example, side effects such as rapid pulse, confusion, “overexcitement,” and being “easily angered or annoyed,” are all associated with Coricidin Cough and Cold at a standard dose.
And with those two ingredients I mentioned being in so many OTC drugs, it’s easy enough to take an overdose purely by accident.
With Coricidin so heavily advertised as being safe for people with high blood pressure, it’s a good bet that many seniors take this med.
Look — having a cough or cold can certainly be a pain in the neck. But the symptoms are easy enough to treat without risking some potentially horrific side effects.
If you want a medication, try sucking on a menthol or zinc lozenge. And drinking tea with honey… steaming with a vaporizer or even a hot shower… and taking vitamin C, zinc, and elderberry syrup are all proven ways to help you feel better and recover quicker.
And then there’s the remedy prescribed by moms everywhere — good old chicken soup!
As for Coricidin — well, Bayer issued a statement offering its “deepest sympathies” to the families of Lauren and Mathew Phelps — but the company added that there’s just “no evidence to suggest” that Coricidin had anything to do with her murder.
Well, Bayer, that’s a matter of opinion — and one that a judge or jury may soon issue their own verdict on.
But it’s something you can decide on right now… by not taking any of these risky and potentially nightmarish drugs.
“Cold medicine taken by N.C. man acused of stabbing wife can cause hallucinations when abused: Toxicologist” Chris Harris, September 7, 2017, People, people.com