Diphenhydramine (DPH)

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Diphenhydramine is a safe, effective and widely used over-the-counter antihistamine that helps relieve allergy symptoms, cold symptoms, and aid in sleep. Millions of Americans count on the temporary relief of medicines containing OTC diphenhydramine for its anticholinergic properties that block allergy histamine responses as well as sedating side effects for sleep aid use. Branded and generic forms of diphenhydramine such as Benadryl are key ingredients in oral allergy tablets, combination cold caplets, specialty sleep aids, and anti-itch creams. With a typical adult dose, diphenhydramine provides effective temporary symptomatic control of hives, itchy rashes, runny nose and sneezing during environmental allergy seasons and flare-ups. With short-term use as directed, the sedative effects additionally help in falling asleep for those experiencing sleep onset difficulties. As a tried and true ingredient available over-the-counter since the 1960s, diphenhydramine continues to serve as a staple go-to for seasonal allergies and occasional sleep struggles with ongoing support for consumer access and safety monitoring as needed.

African American woman wearing a yellow sweater blowing her nose

The Issue

In recent years, some adolescents have begin misusing DPH containing products to get high or participate in trends such as the “Benadryl challenge”. As a result, some state and localities have proposed limiting access to products containing DPH.

CHPA’s Position

Lawmakers should refrain from imposing unnecessary access barriers to diphenhydramine, as leading manufacturers continuously assess and implement efforts to curb teen abuse without limiting adult availability. Blocking legal purchases comes at great cost to the millions relying on these affordable over-the-counter oral and topical allergy and sleep aid products. Support should instead focus on national education campaigns and other innovations that deter harmful misuse while retaining access for appropriate short-term symptom relief use. Preserving OTC diphenhydramine availability enables choice for consumers.