New product can cause confusion


Many of us are familiar with Vicks over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medicines DayQuil and NyQuil. In fact, the VICKS brand is one of the most well recognized names associated with cold and flu medicines (see figure 1).

Recently, Procter & Gamble, the company that makes VICKS products, came out with a new product called ZzzQuil. This new OTC product is a sleep aid, not for treating symptoms of the cold or flu. The potential for product confusion exists because “Quil” is in all of the Vicks brand products names. However, ZzzQuil is the first product from VICKS that is not used to treat cold or flu symptoms (figure 2).

vicks products2
Figure 1.Various cold and flu products from Vicks

DayQuil, NyQuil and ZzzQuil contain different active ingredients. While most DayQuil and NyQuil products contain acetaminophen to reduce pain and a fever, and dextromethorphan to suppress a cough, NyQuil products also contain an antihistamine, eitherdoxylamine succinate or chlorpheniramine maleate, which causes drowsiness. ZzzQuil only contains an antihistamine, diphenhydramine that causes drowsiness to make you sleep.

The product label (see figure 3) indicates that ZzzQuil is “not for treating Cold or Flu.” What is more important, is that ZzzQuil should not be taken at the same time that other products containing antihistamines are taken. Taking more than one antihistamine at a time can cause extreme drowsiness.

As cold and flu season is upon us, it is important to be extra careful when purchasing and using these products. Always read the Drug Facts label before using any OTC medicine.

Figure 2. Vicks recently released a new sleep-aid called ZzzQuil, not to be confused with the cough and flu products
 Figure 3.
Created on January 28, 2013

Medication Safety Alerts

FDA Safety Alerts

Show Your Support!

ISMP needs your help to continue our life saving work