New cough guidelines recommend not using OTCs

January 9, 2006

The American College of Chest Physicians has issued new cough guidelines that stress that most OTC cough expectorants or suppressants, including cough syrups and cough drops, do not treat the underlying cause of the cough. Therefore, the guidelines recommend that for adults with acute cough or upper airway cough syndrome (previously named postnasal drip syndrome), an older variety antihistamine with a decongestant is the preferred therapy. The guidelines also make a strong recommendation against the use of OTC cough and cold medications for children age 14 years and younger. Commenting on the guidelines, a spokeswoman for Consumer Healthcare Products Association said, "OTC cough/cold products provide therapeutic relief to millions of consumers each year. The FDA and other regulatory agencies worldwide support the use of OTC cough/cold products for providing relief of coughs and other symptoms associated with the common cold, and studies support the efficacy of these ingredients."