Background: Regularly updating the German pharmacopoeia on contemporary preparations DAC/NRF, chapter "Nasal Applications" and the recommendations on "Nasal Oils" as well as "Nasal Ointments and Emulsions", the issue of the risk of lipoid pneumonia associated with the use of plant oils and when compared to mineral oils arose.
Material and methods: We searched different databases: the "Grosse Deutsche Arzneimittelspezialitäten-Taxe" containing all products available in German pharmacies, the Cochrane Library, the pharmacovigilance-database of the BfArM, and Medline to evaluate the benefit/risk-ratio of plant oils in nasal drops and sprays.
Results: In German pharmacies, a number of both, mineral oil-containing drugs for nasal application and plant oil-containing medical devices are available. The risk of lipoid pneumonia described for mineral oil-containing nasal products can not entirely be transferred to plant oil-containing products. However, evidence from the literature suggests a risk for lipoid pneumonia, which needs to be considered given the non-proven efficacy of such medical devices in the majority of proposed indications. To minimize risks, recommendations are made for patient groups that should not use lipid-containing nasal products.
Conclusions: Acknowledging the potential lethal outcome of lipoid pneumonia, a demanding diagnosis, and absence of a specific therapy, lipid-containing nasal products should be used only with great caution. Based on the current knowledge, the statements regarding the risk of lipoid pneumonia for lipid-containing nasal products in the DAC/NRF should not be modified.
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