Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System
Phenylephrine is a sympathomimetic agent with mainly direct effects on adrenergic receptors. It has predominantly alpha adrenergic activity and is without stimulating effects on the central nervous system. The sympathomimetic effect of phenylephrine produces vasoconstriction which in turn relieves nasal congestion.
Phenylpropanolamine is a sympathomimetic agent which is used as a decongestant and appetite suppressant. It was commonly used in prescription and over-the-counter cough and cold preparations. Although originally thought to act as a direct agonist of adrenergic receptors, phenylpropanolamine was subsequently found to show only weak or negligible affinity for these receptors, and has been instead characterized as an indirect sympathomimetic which acts by inducing norepinephrine release and thereby activating adrenergic receptors.
Pseudoephedrine is a sympathomimetic agent with direct and indirect effects on adrenergic receptors. It has alpha and beta adrenergic activity and some stimulant effect on the central nervous system. The sympathomimetic effect of pseudoephedrine produces vasoconstriction which in turn relieves nasal congestion.