New research casts doubt on effectiveness of cough medicines

LONDON, Jan 23 (KUNA) — There is no strong evidence that cough medicines do any good, according to research published here Wednesday.
A review of studies involving over-the-counter (purchased without a prescription) cough syrups found no good evidence for or against their effectiveness.
A total of 25 studies were analysed, 17 based on 2,876 adults and eight based on 616 children.
They covered “antitussives,” which are used to relieve coughs; expectorants, which promote the discharge of mucus from the respiratory tract; and combinations of drugs such as antihistamine and decongestant.
The studies produced conflicting or variable results, according to researchers.
Some studies showed syrups worked no better than a placebo (dummy pill) while others had “satisfactory” responses compared to placebo.
The researchers expressed concern over some of the findings, saying “Six out of the nine studies that were supported by the pharmaceutical industry showed positive results compared to three positive studies out of 16 trials that did not report any conflict of interest.” However, they said most preparations appeared to be safe.
The review of the studies appeared in the latest issue of “The Cochrane Library,” a publication which evaluates medical research.
Thomas Fahey, professor of general practice at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland medical school, was co-author on the review.
He said “I do not give my children over-the-counter cough medicine. I do not advise my patients to do so.” Professor Fahey said people often worry about a cough if it has not gone away after a week, but the duration of a cough is commonly two weeks in children and three weeks in adults.
A statement from the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, the trade association representing manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines, said regulatory agencies worldwide support the use of cough medicines.
It said studies supported the efficacy of their active ingredients.