• DASA

Cold and Flu Medications in the Workplace



Every winter the onset of colds and flu impacts workplaces. While bed rest is recommended, many workers will attempt to “soldier on” and try to alleviate the symptoms with a range of medications. All medications can have side effects. Some side effects can impair a worker’s performance and can also produce a non-negative drug test result.

Medications with the following active ingredients can produce a non-negative drug test result:

· Pseudoephedrine is included as a decongestant. It may cause nausea, dizziness and sleeplessness, which could affect safe work performance. It can be bought at the pharmacy, without prescription, but a photo identification is required. Pseudoephedrine is sometimes used illicitly to manufacture illegal amphetamine drugs. It may produce a non-negative result for amphetamines in a workplace drug screening test. The laboratory confirmation test will be able to determine if the result is consistent with appropriate medication use.

· Pholcodine is a cough suppressant. It can cause dizziness, drowsiness and nausea. Pholcoldine can produce a non-negative opiate result in a workplace drug screening test.

Medications with the following active ingredients will not produce a non-negative drug test result:

· Phenylephrine is also a decongestant. It is not as effective as pseudoephedrine but does not have the significant side effects. Phenylephrine will not produce a non-negative result in a workplace drug screening test.

· Dextromethorphan is another cough suppressant. Drowsiness and dizziness are possible side-effects. It will not produce a non-negative result drug test result.

There are many cold and flu medicines available. Many have the same active ingredients. Our advice is to always read the label carefully and always consult a doctor or pharmacist as to the most appropriate treatment for the symptoms and any potential implications for work. To assist workers in their discussions with health professionals, DASA has developed an “Advice to Medical Practitioners” card.


Contact us at info@dasa.net.au for further details.

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PO Box 9017 Harris Park NSW 2150

02 8001 2535 | info@dasa.net.au

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