Do cough syrups work?

med

No, says this article in business-standard.com. It says:

Doctors around the world are shying away from prescribing the once-revolutionary drug as innumerable studies have been unable to prove their efficacy, with many even likening their effect to placebos. Of course, in India, they remain the general practitioner’s favourite and can even be bought over the counter without a prescription.

Amit Sen Gupta, joint convener of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, questions the role of the pharmaceutical industry in marketing cough medicines in India. He says:

“Cough syrups have disappeared from standard textbooks of medicine and pharmaceutical literature for decades now. But in India you do not have a system of continuously monitoring medicines that are available in the market, irrespective of their scientific validity”

According to him, the very idea of suppressing cough defies logic.

..it is the body’s beneficial response to an allergic reaction or an infection, which is trying to expel something it doesn’t want, in this case phlegm.  Gupta suggest instead the use of simple remedies of traditional Indian medicine, such as honey and clove and steam inhalation for the expulsion of phlegm.

Cough syrups such as Benedryl are some of the commonly abused drugs. While statistics may not be available for India, it is a problem in the west. The ingredients in cough syrup can be damaging in case of an overdose. According to Dose-dependent toxicity of diphenhydramine overdose., overdose of Diphenhydramine, the active ingredient of Benadryl is a frequent cause of acute poisoning. Some cough syrups also contain acetaminophen as an ingredients and it has its own known side effects.