Codeine may be no cure for cough

May 17, 2006


Many of us have prescribed a codeine based medicine fo anyone with a cough, as secondary prevention while the patient heals him/her self. When I started medical school in the late 1940s we were taught that the best cough suppressant was Heroin, but is was not in our pharmocopeia because of its addictive properties. With this latest research from the U. of Manchester in the UK we find that we may have one more useless nostrum in our armementarium because it had not been critically evaluated. It appears it may not be as good as Mum’s Chicken Soup!. Scientists at the University of Manchester’s North West Lung Centre have found that codeine – a standard ingredient in cough remedies – could be no more effective than an inactive placebo compound at treating cough. “The effective treatment of chronic dry cough is an important unmet need in patients with chronic respiratory diseases, post-viral coughing and persistent coughing of unknown cause. Studies of cough in other clinical situations are urgently needed if codeine is to be continued to be used as a remedy.”